The United States President, Mr Barack Obama, has urged the Congress to pass cyber security legislation, which according to him “is a key step forward in securing the country against increased cyber threat’’.

“Today we can see the cyber threat to the networks upon which so much of our modern American lives depend. We have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to take action now and stay a step ahead of our adversaries,” Mr Obama wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal yesterday.

“For the sake of our national and economic security, I urge the Senate to pass the Cyber Security Act of 2012 and Congress to send me comprehensive legislation so I can sign it into law.

“It’s time to strengthen our defences against this growing danger,” Mr Obama wrote.

So far, no one has managed to seriously damage or disrupt the critical infrastructure networks of the United States, he wrote.

“But foreign governments, criminal syndicates and lone individuals are probing our financial, energy and public safety systems every day,” said the US President.

“Last year, a water plant in Texas disconnected its control system from the Internet after a hacker posted pictures of the facility’s internal controls.

“More recently, hackers penetrated the networks of companies that operate our natural gas pipelines. Computer systems in critical sectors of our economy — including the nuclear and chemical industries — are being increasingly targeted,” he claimed.

“It doesn’t take much to imagine the consequences of a successful cyber attack. In a future conflict, an adversary unable to match our military supremacy on the battlefield might seek to exploit our computer vulnerabilities here at home,” he wrote adding that taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis.

“The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we’ve seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill,” he said.

“This is the future we have to avoid. That’s why my administration has made cyber security a priority, including proposing legislation to strengthen our nation’s digital defences. It’s why Congress must pass comprehensive cyber security legislation,” Mr Obama said.

He said many of the US companies have boosted their cyber defences.

“But many others have not, with some lacking even the most basic protection: a good password. That puts public safety and our national security at risk,” he said.

(This article was published on July 20, 2012)
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