So much of what we warned about in Secret Weapon and Game Plan is now making headlines. Just this week, it has been reported by both the Justice Department and the 9/11 Commission that al Qaeda and others are planning a massive cyber-economic attack against American infrastructure. Two of the primary targets? The financial system and the power grid.
Contrary to earlier assertions, al Qaeda is not dead. The threat is genuine. This is not conspiracy theory. This is reality and we as a nation must prepare to respond as if our future depended on it. And, it's not just al Qaeda who holds Cyber Threat capabilities. It's also the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans, and Iranians.
Here are just a couple of the prior Blog Posts we wrote on the subject (there are dozens if you drill through the archives):
Now, the Headlines from the past two days (the first excerpted from our friend Bill Gertz's column):
BY: Bill Gertz
ASPEN, Colo.—Al Qaeda, nation states, and criminals are preparing for major cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure that could be comparable to the devastating September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, a senior Justice Department official said on Thursday.
"We're in a pre-9/11 moment, in some respects, with cyber," said John Carlin, assistant attorney general for national security in the Justice Department . . .
On cyber terrorist attacks, Carlin said: "It's clear that the terrorists want to use cyber-enabled means to cause the maximum amount of destruction to our infrastructure."
"It's clear because they have said it," he told the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering at the mountain resort town of senior, current, and former national security and military officials.
Carlin said al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently issued a videotape statement indicating the group is planning cyber attacks against U.S. infrastructure—such as the electrical grids or financial networks.
Terrorists, nation states Carlin did not specify, and sophisticated criminal groups "have the capability now to cause significant damage" through cyber attacks.
One example of the kind of damaging infrastructure attack that can be expected in the future was the recent cyber attack against Saudi Arabia's state-run oil company Aramco that destroyed some 30,000 computers used to control key elements of that country's energy infrastructure . . .
And from the 9/11 Commission as released this week:
07/23/2014 by Giuseppe Macri
A decade after releasing its report on U.S. unpreparedness ahead of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the 9/11 Commission has released a new assessment on the growing threat of cyber-terrorism.
"One lesson of the 9/11 story is that, as a nation, Americans did not awaken to the gravity of the terrorist threat until it was too late," the commission wrote in a new report on the 10th anniversary of the original, which revealed the intelligence failures that led to the hijacking of four planes by Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist organization.
"History may be repeating itself in the cyber realm."
Military and intelligence officials including recently retired U.S. Cyber Command and National Security Agency Director Gen. Keith Alexander and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have repeatedly warned the U.S. is vulnerable to a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" scale attack on its digital front, according to The Hill.
One unnamed former agency official quoted in the report said the U.S. is at "September 10th levels in terms of cyber preparedness," as evidenced by multiple successful cyber attacks on U.S. defense and infrastructure companies in recent years, which have been traced back to countries including China and Russia.
"As the country becomes ever more dependent on digital services for the functioning of critical infrastructure, business, education, finances, communications, and social connections, the Internet's vulnerabilities are outpacing the nation's ability to secure it," the commission wrote.
Most of America has chosen to ignore these reports just as the Intelligence Community missed the clues before 9/11. We wrote Secret Weapon and Game Plan to help us prepare and respond to this very real threat.