Entries in Cyber Security (3)


Obama: US, China Must Develop 'Firm Understanding' on Cybersecurity

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(PALM SPRINGS, Calif.) – President Obama Friday night sought to make a clear distinction between his administration’s domestic surveillance and cyber espionage, after the first in a series of meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping where cybersecurity topped the agenda.

“It’s important … to distinguish between the deep concerns we have as a government about theft of intellectual property or hacking into systems that might disrupt those systems … versus some of the issues that have been raised around NSA programs,” Obama told reporters.

The recent disclosure of the Obama administration’s surveillance programs is threatening to overshadow the president’s efforts to press Xi on the high-tech attacks that China is reportedly launching against the U.S.

“When it comes to those cybersecurity issues like hacking or theft, those are not issues that are unique to the U.S.-China relationship,” Obama said. “Those are issues that are of international concern … and we’re going to have to work very hard to build a system of defenses and protections … around setting up common rules of the road.”

Sitting alongside Xi after their two-hour-plus meeting at the Sunnylands estate in Palm Springs, Obama said the leaders find themselves in “unchartered waters.”

“It’s critical as two of the largest economies and military powers in the world that China and the United States arrive at a full understanding of how we work together on these issues,” he said.

The Chinese have so far denied such cyber attacks. Xi said his country is “firm in upholding cybersecurity” and that China is also a victim of cyber attacks.

Xi warned that new technology is a “double edge-sword” that can drive progress but also challenge governments. He added that he was hopeful the U.S. and China could work together on cybersecurity issues.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Nation's Infrastructure Vulnerable to Cyber Attack

John Foxx/Stockbyte(WASHINGTON) -- In past wars, a hostile army would send troops to sabotage a bridge. Now a terrorist can send a suicide bomber to attack a mass transit system. In the future, experts are worried that malicious hackers -- perhaps even working for China, Iran or North Korea -- could bring down America's critical infrastructure with a few keystrokes.

Nuclear reactors, the national electric grid and the banking sector are all attractive targets, according to testimony Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations by the director of information security issues at the Government Accountability Office. And while foreign attackers have yet to launch a serious attack on U.S.-based infrastructure, some security experts say that terrorists are looking for ways to make it happen.

The GAO didn't name specific foreign adversaries, but one security expert that spoke to ABC News provided insight into who is trying to obtain high-tech hacking tools.

"We know that North Korea wants it, we know that Iran wants it and that some of the terrorist groups are interested in it," said Jim Lewis, who is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The testimony came on the heels of a report from the security firm McAfee that showed evidence of a five-year cyber data-stealing operation likely conducted by a nation state that targeted more than 70 different governmental, non-profit and corporate entities. While the security firm didn't point any fingers, many other security experts have read the data and suspect China as the point of origin.

The Department of Homeland Security released a warning Thursday that Stuxnet, a worm that used in July 2010 to breach an Iranian nuclear reactor network, could be re-purposed to attack other systems with a similar configuration.

DHS is currently working with the private sector to share information on prevalent attacks, but further legislation is needed to ensure a clear chain of command in the event of a crisis.

Lawmakers in Congress are stalled on legislation that would overhaul the nation's cyber security. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, R-Nev., sent a letter Wednesday to Senate Republican leaders urging them to put cyber security back on the agenda.

In a speech on July 14, Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn III said it was "clear" terror groups were "intent on acquiring, refining, and expanding their cyber capabilities."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Introduce Cyber-Security Proposal

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Believing the U.S. to be too vulnerable to cyber-terrorism, President Obama will introduce a proposal to address the threat on Thursday.

The law will address “complex and systemic national vulnerabilities that place the American people and economy at risk,” an administration official said.

To many Americans, “cyber-security” may sound nerdy and irrelevant to their lives, but the nation’s top national security officials have been warning about the threat as dire and potentially catastrophic.

Last June, CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC News that he worried about cyber security.

“We are now in a world in which cyber warfare is very real,” he said.  “It could threaten our grid system.  It could threaten our financial system.  It could paralyze this country, and I think that's an area we have to pay a lot more attention to."

In February, Panetta testified to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence that “the potential for the next Pearl Harbor could very well be a cyber-attack.” 

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the committee, “This threat is increasing in scope and scale, and its impact is difficult to overstate.”

The administration official told ABC News that while the Obama administration “has taken significant steps to better protect America against cyber threats,…it has become clear that our nation cannot fully defend against these threats unless certain parts of cybersecurity law are updated.”

The official said that President Obama’s “proposal strikes a critical balance between strengthening security, preserving privacy and civil liberties protections, and fostering continued economic growth.”

National security officials estimate there are now roughly 60,000 new malicious computer programs identified each day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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