Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking this week: “An aggressor nation or extremist group could use these kinds of cyber tools to gain control of critical switches. They could derail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.” Later, he told reporters at the NYT to relax; this imminent threat does not mean he wants to read your email.

21 Responses to “Panetta warns of imminent "Cyber Pearl Harbor"”

  1. Brainspore says:

    I think somebody just watched Die Hard 4 on DVD last weekend! (Or possibly Superman 3. Basically the same movie.)

  2. OldBrownSquirrel says:

    “passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals”

    Huh? I’ve seen passenger trains, and I’ve seen freight trains loaded with lethal chemicals, but I’ve never seen a passenger train that just had a couple cars of anhydrous ammonia along for the ride.  Let’s just not do that, OK? Problem solved.

  3. I will ask my colleagues about this and get back to you. I don’t think they could do a ‘Highlander 2′, at least.

  4. Will England says:

    Been hearing this for years – since the old George Smith Crypt Newsletter at least.  
    http://wxexw.blogspot.com/2012/10/electronic-pearl-harbor-havent-we-heard.html

  5. RCDavis says:

    Warns of an imminent “Pearl Harbour’?

    Does he mean “an attack that the receiving nation knows is coming, and could stop if they choose to, but they need a justification to enter a war, and their citizens are not scared enough or angry enough to be easily manipulated yet?”

  6. BE AFRAID… BE VERY AFRAID.

  7. marcramsey says:

    Of course, these days the “bad guys” have convenient code examples to work from, like the Stuxnet worm, thanks to the efforts of our friendly intelligence agencies…

  8. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Nice list of suggestions for terrorists, Leon.

    • Brainspore says:

      Maybe he’s intentionally sending them on a wild goose chase to find a passenger train loaded with carloads of lethal chemicals. Next week he’ll be warning America that a Really Dangerous Terrorist could dismantle our entire power grid with a left-handed monkey wrench.

  9. winkybb says:

    And let’s not even talk of the threat posed by sharks…with frickin’ laser beams on their heads.

  10. Kevin Carson says:

    Panetta’s mirror-imaging. An aggressor nation already DID do this. Cough cough Stuxnet cough.

  11. Marc Montoya says:

    oh god, who hooked all that important stuff to the internet! In the most benign circumstances, everything is just goin slower now. In the worst: DEATH!!!!!!!

  12. That_Anonymous_Coward says:

    I will save us all for 1/10th the estimated cost of whatever it is he is pitching….

    If the switch is critical… DISCONNECT IT FROM THE NET.

    I’ll take my payment in gold bars….

  13. Daemonworks says:

    It’s the internet! Hackers can do anything now! Anything at all!

  14. acerplatanoides says:

    Nothing several trillion to contractors won’t solve, EH LEON?

  15. IronEdithKidd says:

    Pearl clutching, maybe.  Pearl Harbor, not so much.

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