President Barack Obama issued a “doomsday” warning during a recent fundraising stop in New York City. The president told a room full of wealthy celebrities and Wall Street types about a looming disaster scenario which could drastically and negatively impact America in the near future.
During the New York City fundraising stop President Obama told wealthy business leaders and celebrities that the White House is “bracing for a possible doomsday scenario” if cyber hackers are able to gain access to business and government computer systems.
Cyber threats to the United States economy were apparently in the forefront of the president’s mind during the upscale fundraising shindig in NYC. A cyber-attack of untold proportion could cripple the economy and alter life as we know if in America, according to attendees at President Obama’s fundraising event.
The U.S. power grid has reportedly been under a constant state of attack by English-speaking Chinese computer experts nestled in a rather unimposing building in Shanghai. The alleged cyber-attacks by the computer hackers pose as significant a threat to America as the two million soldiers in the Chinese army ever could, if the cyber warfare studies by the Mandiant security firm are accurate.
One of the top targets of the People’s Liberation Army is allegedly Lockheed Martin, the largest defense contractor in the United States. Government officials have acknowledged the distinct similarities between the F-35 fighter jet and a version of the plane manufactured in China. Crippling the power grid would be perhaps the quickest way to destroy the American economy and decrease the effectiveness of our military at the same time. The People’s Liberation Army would not have to step foot on American soil or fire a single shot, in order to win a virtual and silent war against the United States.
American infrastructure was noted as some of the “most troubling” targets of Chinese hackers in an ABC News report about Chinese cyber hackers. Twenty-something cyber theft experts are reportedly honing their skills by hacking into business and governmental entities in order to steal either identities or funds.
The Chinese hackers are reportedly targeting the American water supply, pipelines and the power grid. What purpose other than the wreaking havoc, would hackers have for attempting to cripple our infrastructure? Analyst Richard Clarke noted during the ABC report that the only reason someone would want to get into the control system for the power grid would be to cause “damage, destruction, and disruption.”
Commerce would come to a screeching halt if the power grid collapsed. If you owe someone a debt, as we most undoubtedly do with China, taking away the ability to generate funds defies common sense. But, punishing an entity that appears to never be able to make good on a debt is a tried and true loan shark tactic. Chinese officials likely discuss our struggling economy as much as we do ourselves.
Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano stated that a cyber-attack was a matter of “when” not “if” during a press gathering shortly after leaving office. The power grid is our most antiquated and vulnerable piece of infrastructure. The entire system is teetering on the brink of failure. The grid is often called America’s glass jaw because of the nation’s reliability on it and also due to its many weaknesses, such as its vulnerability to a domino effect because it is interconnected. There are about 5,800 power plants and 450,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the US, many of them decades old and a large portion of them connected to one another.
Janet Napolitano also uttered this warning about the threat cyber attacks pose to our aging power grid:
“Our country will, at some point, face a major cyber event that will have a serious effect on our lives, our economy and the everyday functioning of our society. While we have built systems, protections and a framework to identify attacks and intrusions, share information with the private sector and across government, and develop plans and capabilities to mitigate the damage, more must be done, and quickly. After the storm passed [Hurricane Sandy] FEMA sent teams into impacted areas to set up Disaster Registration Centers and conduct damage assessments. For the first time, we activated the DHS Surge Capacity Force, an all-volunteer corps that we created in 2011 to leverage the shared talents and experience and capabilities of employees from across the department.”
Cyber hacking could prove just as detrimental to the power grid as the sniper attack in California and the havoc the Tennessee gunman likely intended to unleash during separate attacks in 2013. On February 11, 2014, cyber hackers exploited the weaknesses of the Network Time Protocol system crafted to sync computer and laptop clocks. The cyber terrorists were able to send a “massive amount of data” to servers which could introduce “malicious attack” on online networks. Cloudfare CEO Matthew Prince said on Twitter, “Someone’s got a big, new cannon and the attack is the start of ugly things to come.
An unidentified attendee at the Democratic fundraiser said, “The president is worried that cyber criminals could literally wipe out the identities of millions of people through some breach of government systems and that could lead to massive chaos. He said 15 years ago, cyber terrorism wasn’t even on the radar screen, but that it will be one of the biggest concerns for whoever is president after him.”
During a meeting while with New York City former Intrepid Museum President Bill White, President Obama allegedly said that it would take “Bonnie and Clyde a thousand years to do what three people in a room with a server can now do.” The president also allegedly said that such a trio of hackers could “steal $100 million” in a fairly short time and could possibly “take down the banking system” one day.
The president’s comments during the NYC fundraiser nearly coincided with JPMorgan disclosing a significant cyber-attack had occurred and the culprits were able to obtain the addresses and names of 76 million customer households.
Are you prepared for a power grid down scenario? Could a cyber attack cause an economic collapse in America?