Last Sunday 100 million television viewers became aware of a power surge at a stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Very few Americans on the other hand are aware of dangers facing our electric grid and power plants. The danger comes to us with new coined terms such as cyber warfare, cyberstrikes, and cyber attack. In a speech today to a Georgetown University audience, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned his audience with the following, “I believe that it is very possible the next Pearl Harbor could be a cyber attack… [that] would have one hell of an impact on the United States of America. That is something we have to worry about and protect against.” For details read the Defense Department new release titled, “Panetta Warns Cyber Threat Growing Quickly”.
What is just as alarming as the threat is the lack of news coverage about the current state of preparedness against computer attacks from either foreign terrorists or foreign countries. In a news article published in the New York Times, “Broad Powers Seen for Obama in Cyberstrikes” reporters David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker write the following, “The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that an American power station, which it did not name, was crippled for weeks by cyberattacks.” The incident was reported in a one sentence entry in paragraph 13 of the February 4th edition. Perhaps it is time John Q. Public be given more information by both the press and our elected officials.
There are things each American can do to protect themselves against computer hackers and computer threats, even in their own home. You can become aware of actions you can take to protect your home computer. The Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has issued a Securing Your Web Browser report. Read it, study it, pass it on to your organization IT Department, but don’t think that computer security is someone else’s job.