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Homeland Security: U.S. needs cyber security legislation to prevent a ‘cyber 9/11’

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Janet NapolitanoSecretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano warned Thursday that “critical infrastructure — including water, electricity and gas” — is vulnerable to imminent cyber attacks that could cripple the country like Hurricane Sandy crippled the Northeast, Reuters reported.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world,” Napolitano said in calling for cyber security legislation. “There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage.”

New cyber security legislation is needed “so the government could share information with the private sector to prevent an attack on infrastructure, much of which is privately owned,” Napolitano told the Wilson Center, a think tank on national and international affairs.

Business and privacy groups had a hand in killing cyber security legislation in 2012, the Reuters story said. Business groups feared “government overreach,” and privacy groups feared “Internet eavesdropping.”

Officials say recent cyber attacks targeting U.S. banks show the real and growing threat to America’s national security.

“Attacks are coming all the time,” Napolitano said. “They are coming from different sources, they take different forms. But they are increasing in seriousness and sophistication.”

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