United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is sounding the alarm bells about cyber terrorist attacks, saying that passing the CISPA bill or enacting some kind of executive order to implement protections are necessary to avoid what he calls "Cyber-Pearl Harbor."
He says that the U.S. should act preemptively to protect "national interests in cyberspace" by working fastidiously on some sort of safeguards for critical infrastructure.
"[A] Cyber-Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, an attack that would paralyze and shock the nation and create a profound new sense of vulnerability," Panetta said during a speech at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York.
Panetta went on to claim that "cyber-attackers" are developing or have already developed new technologies that could knock out entire city power grids, derail trains and contaminate water supplies. He also branded factions within China, Russia and Iran as "extremist military groups" in the cyber hacking space. Of course the Secretary of Defense didn't talk about what the U.S. government is doing in this space – like creating technology that could be used to hack countries it deems as enemies; multiple media reports allege that U.S. Intelligence agencies had a hand in developing and deploying the Stuxnet and Flame viruses that attacked Iran’s nuclear program and extracted classified information….
"An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches," Panetta said. "They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals."
Panetta said that the best way to fight these attacks is by Congress passing Cybersecurity legislation sooner rather than later. Of course we heard the same claims from the George W. Bush Administration in the days and month following September 11, 2001 – which helped fast track the Patriot Act and the creation of the Homeland Security Agency…
While the House passed CISPA, a similar bill called the Cyber Security Act of 2012 couldn't garner enough support to overcome a filibuster and was ultimately stalled. The President said that he is considering taking matters into his own hands by issuing an executive order with much the same language as the Senate's bill. A draft of that executive order has been passed around to various agencies within the administration according to media reports.
Rights groups oppose both bills because they don't provide any protection on Internet user privacy and do not detail what kinds of information can be shared between corporations and agencies within the federal government…