News / Science & Technology

    Panetta Says US Boosting Cyber Defense

    US Defense Secretary Lean Panetta after a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, October 10, 2012. US Defense Secretary Lean Panetta after a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, October 10, 2012.
    x
    US Defense Secretary Lean Panetta after a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, October 10, 2012.
    US Defense Secretary Lean Panetta after a meeting of NATO Defense Ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, October 10, 2012.
    Luis Ramirez
    U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has revealed some details of U.S. plans to deal with a massive cyber attack. Those plans include launching a possible cyber-offensive in what some analysts say is a message to Iran.
     
    With thousands of enemy cyber-actors probing the Pentagon’s systems millions of times a day, the secretary of defense has spoken about the threat of a massive cyber attack before. But his warnings late Thursday in New York have been the strongest yet.
     
    “This is a pre-9/11 moment. The attackers are plotting,” said Panetta.
     
    Panetta said it is no secret that Russia and China have advanced cyber capabilities and he said Iran has also undertaken concerted efforts to use cyberspace to its advantage.
     
    U.S. officials have blamed Iran for a massive cyberattack two months ago on systems at the Saudi company Aramco and a natural gas company in Qatar. The assault, known as Shamoon, infected 30,000 computers.
     
    In his remarks Thursday, Panetta did not link Iran to the Shamoon attacks, which he said mark a significant escalation of the cyberthreat - and even more destructive scenarios that could unfold. Among these: train derailments, the shutdown of power grids, and the contamination of water supplies. 
     
    He said the United States has taken steps to be ready for a strike on U.S. installations.  He said the Pentagon would - in some instances - not wait for an attack before it launches an offensive.
     
    “If we detect an imminent threat of attack that will cause significant, physical destruction in the United States or kill American citizens, we need to have the option to take action against those who would attack us to defend this nation when directed by the president,” said Panetta.
     
    Panetta said the U.S. military has pumped $3 billion into cyber security efforts that include the recruitment of an army of cyber-warriors to fight off attacks.
     
    Gary Schmitt, a security analyst at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, sees Panetta’s strong remarks as a message for Iran.
     
    “This is Secretary Panetta essentially saying ‘this is enough.’ It somewhat reminds you that cyber warfare is the kind of warfare that impinges on being terrorism,” said Schmitt. “So, Iran, the tens of thousands of computers that it shut down in the Gulf, it would be the same thing as if an Iranian agent were to throw a bomb into a room with a variety of servers.”
     
    Critics of that message include George Smith, a cyber specialist at Globalsecurity.org, whose job for several years has been to analyze the U.S. government’s assessments of cyberthreats. He said Iran’s capabilities are not as developed as those of the United States, and he believes issuing warnings about cyber attacks may actually encourage Tehran to launch them.
     
    “They came to the game late. In cyberspace, it’s basically an arms race, so people are going to be spurred by what they perceive other people to be doing.”
     
    Panetta is urging Congress to pass cybersecurity legislation that would allow for information sharing between the private sector and the government. The bill has been stuck in a political battle. In the meantime, he said the White House may put out an executive order to enforce some elements of the measure.

    Here's a history of some major cyber attacks:

    Ongoing - Since mid-2006, Operation Shady RAT attacks have targeted 72 organizations, including governments and defense contractors.

    July 2011 - SK Communications, a South Korean communications company, is hacked, resulting in the theft of personal details of up to 35 million people.

    November 2010 - The Indian Cyber Army allegedly targeted websited of the Pakistan Army and several other ministries, including education, finance and foreign affairs. A month later the Pakistan Cyber Army attacked India’s Central Bureau of Investigation.

    November 2010 - Massive volumes of Defense Department data is rerouted through China for 18 minutes. China denied any involvement.

    September 2010 - The Stuxnet worm attacks Iran's Natanz nuclear facility, specifically targeting centrifuges related to uranium enrichment. Described as the most advanced piece of malware ever devised, some have speculated it was developed by U.S. and Israeli intelligence.

    January 2010 - Google reports the loss of intellectual property after an attack on its infrastructure. The attack purportedly originated in China.

    July 2009 - A series of coordinated denial of service attacks against target government, financial and media websites in South Korea and the U.S.

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: American Mom from: USA
    October 12, 2012 5:41 PM
    with all due respect to the US Obama administration... I would be much happier and feel much safer to learn that our "intelligence" is being checked against Israeli Intelligence... call me old fashioned... but after almost a month after the Benghazi disaster, we know nothing... and just few minutes after the Hizbullah drone was shoot down in Israel - Iranian engineers of drone components have started committing "suicide" in Iran... I think i stick with Israeli Intelligence...

    by: PK from: Anaheim Hills, Ca
    October 12, 2012 12:15 PM
    The worlds largest internet router manufacturer(Cisco) is already embracing China, and we are alowing them to provide pieces of our telecommunications infrastructure,...why? The corporate greed is inexplicable, and at the expense of america's future.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora