Panetta warns of imminent "Cyber Pearl Harbor"

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.


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

  2. “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.

    1. OK, I spoke to some rail experts.
      To derail a train, you need to put something on the track, or make it go faster and then change the position of a switch. Neither of these scenarios are possible to be with “cyber tools”. 
      This is just more hype about cyberwarfare, which is the new WMD.

        1. Yup. When was the last time our government warned us of an imminent terrorist attack…and it actually happened?
          Someone is crying wolf methinks.

  3. 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?”

  4. 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…

    1. 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.

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

  6. 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….

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