Next Attack by U.S. Would Have Cyber-Elements – Even Against Iran? Sure

If the United States military takes action against Iran’s nuclear program — or any target abroad that uses computers and technological networks — don’t assume that the U.S. will use only bombs and missiles.

Leon Panetta, speaking at Georgetown University. Courtesy: Defense Department website.

In Spies Against Armageddon we already reported that the National Security Agency worked with a hi-tech unit of Israel’s military intelligence agency (Aman) to create “Stuxnet” — the cyber-worm that caused severe damage to uranium-enrichment centrifuges in Iran.   How Israeli intelligence injected Stuxnet into the Natanz facility in Iran remains a closely held secret.

CBS News reported this week that the Pentagon’s Cyber Command is being increased from 900 personnel to 5,000.

Apparently this is for defensive and offensive missions.

Here’s an intriguing section of Secretary Panetta’s speech at Georgetown University today (February 6):

One of the great threats we face today is the threat from cyber-attacks.  We have got to have the capability to stay ahead of this new challenge in the face of what I believe is a growing threat to our economy and a growing threat to our critical infrastructure.

We are literally the target of thousands of cyber-attacks every day thousands of cyber-attacks that are striking at the private sector, strike at Silicon Valley, strike at other institutions within our society, strike at government, strike at the Defense Department and our intelligence agencies.

And cyber is now at a point where the technology is there to cripple a country, to take down our power grid system, to take down our government system, take down our financial system and literally paralyze the country.

That is the reality.  And so, for that reason it is extremely important that we do everything possible to develop the technical capabilities to operate effectively in cyberspace.

Over the last two years, we’ve done that.  We’ve invested a great deal.  And we will do that in the future.  We’re going to invest more in cyber, to try to give us the capability to be able to protect our critical infrastructure against the kind of imminent and destructive cyber-attacks that I just talked about.

But to do that, frankly, we’re going to need legislation.  We’ve asked for legislation from the Congress to try to give us the tools we need — the legal tools we need so that we can develop a partnership with the private sector to be able to confront these challenges.

And I hope that ultimately Congress will take that step.  That’s an important step to trying to be able to defend this country from those nations that would use a cyber-attack to weaken us.

February 6, 2013

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