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CYBER WARFARE AND HOMELAND SECURITY UPDATE

20 Oct 12. Cyberspace is the battlefield of the future, with
attackers already going after banks and other financial institutions and developing the ability to strike U.S. power grids and government systems, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.
“We confront a whole new threat of warfare in (cyberspace). … This is an area we’ve got to pay close attention to. This is the battlefront of the future,” he told a business group in Norfolk, Virginia, a city at the center of one of the largest concentrations of military power in the United States.Panetta’s remarks came a week after he delivered a major policy speech on cyber security to a New York business group, saying the U.S. military could act pre-emptively if it detects an imminent threat of cyber attack. U.S. banks and financial institutions have been under sustained attack in recent weeks by suspected Iranian hackers thought to be responding to economic sanctions aimed at forcing Tehran to negotiate over its nuclear program. A group calling itself the Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-din Al Qassam has claimed credit for the disruptions, calling them a protest against an anti-Islam video posted on YouTube that has provoked violent protests across the Muslim world.
“As I speak, there are attacks going on in this country, cyber attacks, on financial institutions, on banks,” Panetta told the business group on Friday, adding that Washington faces hundreds of thousands of attacks per day. He did not specify the country from which the attacks were originating. “Now they are developing the capability to be able to go after our grid, our power grid, our financial systems, our government systems, and virtually paralyze this country,” he said.
William Robertson, an assistant professor at Northeastern University in Boston who testified on cyber security legislation in Congress earlier this year, said in an interview the government is “quite understandably worried” about the threat. “I don’t think it’s hyperbole,” he added. “These kinds of attacks that he’s talking about have actually been going on for quite some time. And they’ve been increasing in intensity lately.”
Panetta said last week the United States has made significant investments in cyber forensics to deal with the problem of identifying the source of a cyber attack. He warned potential attackers that the United States has “the capacity to locate them and hold them accountable.” Robertson saididentifying the source of a cyber attack remains difficult. (Source: Reuters)

19 Oct 12. Twenty top U.S. Air Force generals are due to discuss cyber warfare in a November meeting aimed at clarifying the service’s role in this new and increasingly important arena of military conflict. The four-star generals prepared for the event with a day of meetings last month at U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, where they and some three-star generals were briefed on the rapidly changing nature of the cyber threat and U.S. capabilities. Major General Earl Matthews told the Air Force Association conference last month that a high-level meeting was needed because “not all four stars can talk as eloquently about cyber as they can about air and space power.” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week warned that foreign actors were targeting U.S. computer systems that control chemical, electricity and water plant, as well as those that guide the nation’s critical transportation networks. He said the U.S. military could act pre-emptively if it detects an imminent threat of cyber attack. (Source: Reuters)

15 Oct 12. Variant of Middle East spy virus found. A variant of the cyber espionage viruses that have infected targets across the Middle East has been discovered, raising fears that researchers have only begun to scratch the surface of cyber warfare being waged in the region. Researchers at Kaspersky Lab, an internet security company, said on Monday that the variant, called Mini-Flame, came from the same “cyber-weapon factory” responsible

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