Cyber threat to US infrastructure becoming more serious, says Panetta

The United States is likely to experience a steady barrage of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure in the months ahead, and therefore should strengthen its cyber defenses to withstand them, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a group of business leaders on Oct. 11, reports CNN's Security Clearance blog.

Panetta called the current situation a "pre-9/11 moment,” citing recent distributed denial of service attacks against a number of large U.S. financial institutions as evidence of the looming and ever-present threat to U.S. critical infrastructure. 
The defense secretary also mentioned in the same context of threats to private-sector infrastructure a cyber virus known as Shamoon which infected as many as 30,000 computers of major energy firms in Saudi Arabia and Qatar this past summer.
U.S. critical infrastructure, which comprises the electrical power grid, water plants and transportation systems, is a prime target for foreign actors, he said.

"We know of specific instances where intruders have successfully gained access to these control systems," Panetta said. "We also know they are seeking to create advanced tools to attack those systems and cause panic, destruction and even loss of life."


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