News / Science & Technology

Lawmakers Concerned About Cyber Threats to Critical US Infrastructure

A computer screen shows a password attack in progress at computer security training program in Northfield, Vermont (undated.)
A computer screen shows a password attack in progress at computer security training program in Northfield, Vermont (undated.)
Cindy Saine
— The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee has expressed concern about the threat of cyber attacks from China, Iran and other countries. He spoke at a Wednesday committee hearing as President Barack Obama met with corporate leaders to discuss the issue.  

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul compared the threat from cyber attacks to the terrorist threat the United States faced on September 11, 2001, but he said this time the U.S. is aware of the threat and is taking steps to counter it.

"We know that foreign nations are conducting reconnaissance on our utilities - they are penetrating our gas and water systems and also our energy grids - and if the ability to send a silent attack through our digital networks falls into our enemies’ hands, this country could be the victim of a devastating attack," McCaul said. "Yet, while threats are imminent, no major cyber security legislation has been enacted since 2002."

Several lawmakers at the hearing expressed concern about recent reports that the majority of cyber attacks against the United States are emanating from China. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Jane Lute said the Obama administration considers the attacks extraordinarily significant.

"We have raised this issue of the attacks that are emanating from actors in China, with Chinese authorities. We have called on them to acknowledge it, take it seriously, understand it, to investigate it and stop it, and to work with us in creating broad norms of responsible cyber behavior," Lute said.

In an ABC News interview Tuesday, President Obama said there has been a steady ramping up of the threat to cyber security from other nations and from criminals.  He said the United States already has engaged in some "tough talk" with China and other countries.  

China says it is a victim, not perpetrator

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Tuesday said Beijing is open to talks, but insisted that China is a victim, and not a perpetrator of computer crimes.

President Obama signed an executive order a month ago directing U.S. agencies to improve information sharing on cyber threats, but such orders do not carry the weight of law.

A Senate bill on cyber security last year failed to get enough votes to pass and was opposed by some business groups and some privacy rights advocates.  A new cyber security bill has been introduced in the House, but has not been brought to the floor yet.

At a Senate hearing Tuesday, the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told lawmakers America's biggest national security threat could come now from a computer keyboard instead of a terrorist bomb.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid