Friday, September 16, 2005

Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable to Cyber Attack

A House Science Committee press release summarizes recent testimony by industry CIOs on the alarming lack of preparedness for cyberdisasters.
The nation’s critical infrastructure remains vulnerable to cyber attack. The witnesses said the economy is increasingly dependent on the Internet and that a major attack could result in significant economic disruption and loss of life.

Urging action to address this vulnerability, the witnesses advocated increased funding for cybersecurity research and development (R&D) and greater information sharing between industry and government and among various sectors of industry. Witnesses also urged greater federal attention to cybersecurity...

“We shouldn’t have to wait for the cyber equivalent of a Hurricane Katrina to realize that we are inadequately prepared to prevent, detect and respond to cyber attacks,” said Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY). “And a cyber attack can affect a far larger area at a single stroke than can any hurricane. Not only that, given the increasing reliance of critical infrastructures on the Internet, a cyber attack could result in deaths as well as in massive disruption to the economy and daily life.

“So our goal this morning is to help develop a cybersecurity agenda for the federal government, especially for the new Assistant Secretary. I never want to have to sit on a special committee set up to investigate why we were unprepared for a cyber attack. We know we are vulnerable, it’s time to act.”

[Mr. John Leggate, Chief Information Officer, British Petroleum Inc.] testified that an informal survey earlier this year found that executives in the telecommunications, energy, chemical, and transportation sectors estimated that about 30 percent of their revenue depends directly on the Internet. He also said that, because of interdependency among various industry sectors, a single attack could reverberate throughout the global economy: “These cascading dependencies all too quickly create ‘domino effects’ that are not obvious to the corporate customer or the policymaker.”

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