Last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned that a major cyber attack is an imminent threat and could have a devastating impact on the level of a super storm like Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy.
According to Napolitano a “cyber 9/11” could happen “imminently” and that critical infrastructure — including water, electricity and gas — was very vulnerable to such a strike. An attack on infrastructure could shut down power for large swathes of the country for weeks or longer.
Napolitano has urged Congress to pass legislation governing cyber security so the government could share information with the private sector to prevent an attack on infrastructure, much of which is privately owned.
So far, achieving any sort of legislation has failed. A cyber security bill fell apart in Congress last year after business and privacy groups opposed it fearing government overreach and Internet eavesdropping.
In an illustration perhaps of just how vulnerable our systems could be to a cyber attack, hackers claiming to be from the group Anonymous hacked in to the US Department of Justice website over the weekend, shut it down and claim to have stolen damaging information that they will release to the public.