WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned on Thursday that a major cyber attack is a looming threat and could have the same sort of impact as last year’s Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out electricity in a large swathe of the Northeast.
Napolitano said a “cyber 9/11” could happen “imminently” and that critical infrastructure – including water, electricity and gas – was very vulnerable to such a strike.
“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage,” said Napolitano, speaking at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington and referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks.
Napolitano runs the sprawling Homeland Security Department that was created 10 years ago in the aftermath of September 11 and charged with preventing another such event.
She urged Congress to pass legislation governing cyber security so the government could share information with the private sector to prevent an attack on infrastructure, much of which is privately owned.
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