Homeland Security Head Warns of ‘Cyber 911’ if Congress Doesn’t Pass Cybersecurity Legislation

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta are pushing lawmakers to pass some sort of cybersecurity bill to protect critical infrastructure in the United States. Both say that waiting much longer could prove to have devastating consequences.

Napolitano said the lawmakers should not wait until we have a "cyber 9/11" to act:

"We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of the damage,” Napolitano said in a speech at the Wilson Center, a Washington, DC think tank."

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also been ringing alarm bells for awhile about a potential attack at the hands of cyber terrorists. Back in October he said we could face a cyber Pearl Harbor if we don't do something about protecting critical infrastructure now.

"A cyber attack perpetuated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11," he said during a speech. "Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation."

Both want to see a cybersecurity bill passed as soon as possible – something similar to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act that was sidelined last year in the Senate.

The President has also been pushing for some sort of cybersecurity bill to be passed by lawmakers and has threatened to issue an executive order to put some protections in place if Congress doesn't act.

The problem is that online privacy advocates and businesses do not like the idea of the government regulating them or the idea of government agencies sharing private data of U.S. Internet users…

Source: RT

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  1. ecco6t9 says:

    And this is why I think Anonymous is actually the CIA and FBI.

    You get a bunch of people to portray the internet as some kind of wild west place ruled by outlaws that has to be fixed by a government that wants to censor it and give the office of the President of the United States an internet kill switch.

  2. Prof_Sarcastic says:

    Yeah, thats what I was going for when I said "well, we know where their priorities are".

    Ask a member of the public about the real 9/11, they think of 3000 corpses.  But to these guys, its about the money they lost.

  3. Imautobot says:

    Between the lines, they are talking about financial disruption.  And in that sense it could be much more devastating, since not only will it possibly affect those wealthy elite, it would likely affect those who aren't financially stable.  For example, I don't have any physical gold, so disrupting the electronics that govern the market would have a significant impact on funds that I have saved.  Average people who's finances exist totally virtual will be the ones most vulnerable.

    All you have to do is envision the chaos that would ensue if all the digital financial records from one major bank institution would go missing.

    Of course, banking disruption is the most obvious course for terrorism, but there are other avenues.  If one gained remote access to power grids, or traffic lights.  You could create chaos on a different level, and that could result in loss of life and property damage.

    But this is amount of power is a double edged sword.  If you don't authorize it, will someone within the ranks cause this terrorism to get it authorized?  Once they have this power, will they analyze every data packet being sent, and do so without warrants (though I believe this is already happening)?  If the authority isn't authorized, and a cyber attack does occur, will the people make a snap judgment to sign off on anything that is placed in front of them, like they did with the patriot act?  This is a real damned if ya do and damned if ya don't situation.

    I'm reminded of this quote.  "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts, absolutely."

  4. Prof_Sarcastic says:

    "as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11"?!?

    I'm having real difficulty thinking of a scenario where a hacker could cause the deaths of 3000 people in one event.  The only thing I can think of is making a nuclear reactor melt down, an almost impossibly unlikely scenario and even then I'm not convinced it would kill so many.

    On the other hand, if by destruction what is meant is loss of money and/or property, then I'm sure it's feasible.  But if thats the way they mean it that shows where their priorities really lie…

  5. MaskedPixelante says:

    Protip: Don't equate a theoretical event to an actual, life lost event, if there's a good chance no life will be lost.

  6. David says:

    Has it really been long enough that we can start saying anything is "9/11" without people getting offended?  Is it really ok to compare a bill that's essentially another power grab to an event that killed nearly 3000 people?  Am I so out of touch…?!

    No.  No, it's the children who are out of touch.

  7. Neeneko says:

    Actually, it entered its modern phase during the 50s with the nuclear program and the early stages of the cold war. That is where the framework for the modern ‘security’ structure including state secrets and a significant expansion of the executive branch’s power.

  8. Andrew Eisen says:

    Cyber Pearl Harbor.  Cyber 9/11.

    Next time we hear about this it will be Cyber Holocaust.


    Andrew Eisen

  9. Cyberdodo says:

    "Give us total authoritarian power to do anything we damned well please, or really bad things will happen!"


  10. Infophile says:

    Didn't this already happen? It seems every year or two, there's a threat of a Cyber 9/11 if we don't pass this bill – don't even read it, just pass it, quickly, or 9/11!

    Specifics of what will happen? It's like 9/11, only cyber. You know, on the internet. Cyber-planes flying into cyber-buildings and killing thousands of cyber-people, followed by an endless cyber-war in cyber-Afghanistan, an eight-year cyber-war in cyber-Iraq, and constant threats to start a war with cyber-Iran. All of that will happen if you don't pass this bill today without reading it.

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