On Thursday Leon Panetta became the first-ever U.S. Secretary of Cyber Defense (unofficially, that is). At a New York conference attended by business leaders, Panetta directly acknowledged cyber security as a real threat to national security, ominously warning that the U.S. is at a “pre-9/11 moment” and that “the attackers are plotting.”As the WSJ reports, Panetta’s comments were designed to raise domestic awareness and to warn countries like Iran that the U.S. is keenly aware of these threats:
“One of the effects of talking about cyber more openly is that we are making clear to anyone who would try to do harm to the nation that we are paying attention and we are not going to take this sitting down,” said a U.S. official.
This may be the first official recognition of cyber-war as an integral part of America’s national security agenda by the Pentagon, but in truth it has been a part of the agenda for most of the 21st century. Indeed, the United States has been far from a helpless victim of cyber bulling on the part of Russia, Iran, or China over the past few years; the U.S. and its allies are already the leaders in developing and actually employing cyber weapons, as Iranian nuclear scientists can attest. But new technology changes quickly, and the U.S. will need to keep innovating to stay at the head of the pack.