Cyber threats “dangerous” and “insidious,” says SecDef Hagel

The United States knows the origin of cyber attacks against it, and is dealing with them through “public diplomacy and private engagement,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week while enroute to Singapore, specifically mentioning engagement with China, which has been linked to many of these attacks.

“Governments have some responsibility to their people, whether it's the U.S. government or the Chinese government or any government, to state where they are on these issues,” said Hagel during a media Q&A, from a transcript provided by the Defense Department.

“It's pretty hard to prove that they are directed by any specific entity, but…the United States knows, (as well as) most countries that have any kind of cyber capacity, where many of these incursions come from. So we've got to find ways (to work) with the Chinese (and) everybody (on) rules of the road, international understandings (and) responsibility that governments have to take.”

Hagel said that cyber attacks could be particularly devastating if targeted at infrastructure such as power grids.

“Cyber threats are real; they're terribly dangerous,” he said. “They're probably as insidious and real a threat to the United States—as well as China, by the way—(as actual kinetic attacks). And when you look at the quiet, stealthy, insidious, dangerous outcomes that occur and can occur by taking down power grids and wiping out energy computers and financial systems, (as well as) neutralizing defense capability computers and space…that's not a unique threat to the United States.

Hagel said that cyber would be a centerpiece of the NATO ministerial meeting this week in Brussels, Belgium.

“The intent of that meeting is to engage how we all need to find ways (to develop) international standards agreements, (and) commit to responsible use of cyber (so we can) deal with these real threats.”

Defense Systems Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.