Defense chief calls cyberspace battlefront of the future

WASHINGTON Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:33pm EDT

1 of 2. U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta speaks during a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels October 10, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other financial institutions and developing the ability to strike U.S. power grids and government systems, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Friday.

"We confront a whole new threat of warfare in (cyberspace). ... This is an area we've got to pay close attention to. This is the battlefront of the future," he told a business group in Norfolk, Virginia, a city at the center of one of the largest concentrations of military power in the United States.

Panetta's remarks came a week after he delivered a major policy speech on cyber security to a New York business group, saying the U.S. military could act pre-emptively if it detects an imminent threat of cyber attack.

U.S. banks and financial institutions have been under sustained attack in recent weeks by suspected Iranian hackers thought to be responding to economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program.

A group calling itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-din Al Qassam has claimed credit for the disruptions, calling them a protest against an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube that has provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.

"As I speak, there are attacks going on in this country, cyber attacks, on financial institutions, on banks," Panetta told the business group on Friday, adding that Washington faces hundreds of thousands of attacks per day. He did not specify the country from which the attacks were originating.

"Now they are developing the capability to be able to go after our grid, our power grid, our financial systems, our government systems, and virtually paralyze this country," he said.

William Robertson, an assistant professor at Northeastern University in Boston who testified on cyber security legislation in Congress earlier this year, said in an interview the government is "quite understandably worried" about the threat.

"I don't think it's hyperbole," he added. "These kinds of attacks that he's talking about have actually been going on for quite some time. And they've been increasing in intensity lately."

Panetta said last week the United States has made significant investments in cyber forensics to deal with the problem of identifying the source of a cyber attack. He warned potential attackers that the United States has "the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable."

Robertson said identifying the source of a cyber attack remains difficult.

"Identity and attribution on the Internet are not very robust. If you look at kind of the underlying protocols that kind of power the Internet ... there's no real strong mechanism for identifying where something is coming from," he said.

Panetta also said that more pressure on Congress is needed to push it to act to avoid a round of automatic budget cuts due to go into effect in January.

The cuts would take another $500 billion from defense spending over the next decade, following a $487 billion cut in projected defense spending approved last year.

Panetta called the automatic cuts a "goofy mechanism" put into place by Congress to force lawmakers "to do what they are supposed to do" and deal with the U.S. budget deficits.

"So they put a gun to their heads and said if we don't do what's right we'll blow our heads off," Panetta said. "And they didn't do what is right and now the damn gun is cocked to go off in January."

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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Comments (2)
AdamSmith wrote:
Shall we try to foretell the cyber future, when today we don’t care that the carcass of America is being eaten away in broad daylight by the people other nations, today, on a massive scale?

If the Defense Secretary Panetta is concerned about the well being of the American people, why isn’t he defending us today from being eaten and consumed by the rest of the world?

There is no other country in the world that is allowing foreigners to enter at will, like America has been carelessly doing for the last twelve years. What other nation on earth allows the unhindered immigration that America does? What other nation on earth has stopped defending its borders?

There are giant cities all over the world, brimming with impoverished people and wealthy people, both. All of them, both the impoverished foreigner and the rich foreigner, are being allowed to feast on the carcass of America. The only precedent would be the fall of Rome.

Impoverished immigrants, accustomed to living in slums of giant foreign cities, or the mud huts of foreign villages, are flooding into America, willing to work for any wage, and thus driving down American wages, in all working professions.

Kept from the public news media is the stark fact that the huge flow of immigrants has sharply driven up American rents, adding more and more distress to American middle class renters. Young Americans are paying exhorbitant rents in every American city because of the huge influx of immigrants.

And now the American military-industrial complex, who sold out the American worker a long time ago, is warning us about cyber-security. Whose security? The wealthy have security to worry about. But the American worker’s security was destroyed twelve years ago when our borders were opened up to mass immigration.

But the influx of poor immigrants is only part of the story. The wealthy classes from the same foreign countries (literally all foreign countries) are bringing their ill-begotten money to America and buying up American real estate at an unprecedented rate.

Foreigners are buying not just Manhattan and Miami trophy condominiums, but small properties on, literally, almost every corner in every city and town in America.

The Obama administration is talking about cyber security, but I ask, why? Why do they care about cyber-security when we openly allow the whole world to march in every day and feast on our nation’s carcass, while the wealthy get richer?

In whose interest are we governed?

The immigration into America over the last 12 years is the greatest defeat, the greatest destruction to our American lives, our livelihoods and our future, that America has every experienced — far more destructive than if 10 nuclear bombs were dropped on us.

The American military-industrial complex is only interested in money for themselves and the wealthy. To them, the American worker is a villain, especially if he dare organize with another worker.

This cyber-security warning is about big wealthy multinational corporations, not about the American people.

Oct 19, 2012 10:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
sjfella wrote:
Adam, that was one of the most interesting, albeit troubling, posts I have read here in a long time.

Oct 20, 2012 2:59am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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