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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid