A panel of officials from the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Department of Homeland Security among others, says the United States is far behind in addressing cyber-security threats. "Taking down the grid for months comes as close to a nuclear attack with many weapons on the United States as anything could," says panel member R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, at the opening of a new exhibit on cybersecurity called "Weapons of Mass Disruption" at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. "You'd have mass starvation and death from thirst and all the rest."
Why is the U.S. at risk? Because so much of its infrastructure — including the electrical grid, water and sewage treatment, as well as our transportation system — is computerized.
The first major hacking incident by a foreign power against the Department of Defense and other networks aimed at stealing high-tech secrets occurred in 1984, says
James Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "So, it's been 25 years and we're still waking up."
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