While the eastern United States recovers from this week’s devastasting storm, the nation’s Homeland Security chief used “Superstorm Sandy” to promote the importance of national cybersecurity protection.
“One of the possible areas of attack, of course, is attacks on our nation’s control systems — the control systems the operate our utilities, our water plants, our pipelines, our financial institutions,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano told a group Wednesday in Washington, D.C., according to The Hill. “If you think that a critical systems attack that takes down a utility even for a few hours is not serious, just look at what is happening now that Mother Nature has taken out those utilities.”
On the last day of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Napolitano underscored the threat posed by cybercriminals, who’ve cost consumers and companies billions of dollars annually from theft, fraud and other criminal activity.
She highlighted the need for a firmer legislative response, given the lack of progress in Congress this year, and singled out the U.S. financial industry, which she said is under contact attack — noting that shouldn’t be a surprise.
“I’m not giving you any classified information,” she said of the obvious statement. “I will say this has involved some of our nation’s largest institutions. We’ve also had our stock exchanges attacked over the last [few] years, so we know … there are vulnerabilities. We’re working with them on that.”
When asked to elaborate, Napolitano refused to go into more detail on the victims or scale of attacks.