Panetta: Cyber warfare could paralyze U.S.

Back in 2010, the Pentagon established cyber command to wage war and defend America's computer systems. It's a top priority for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. In an interview for "60 Minutes," CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley spoke with Panetta while he was touring the Middle East last month, flying in a command post that's rigged to conduct nuclear war if need be. The Secretary told CBS News cyber war is one of his biggest worries.

Panetta: The reality is that there is the cyber capability to basically bring down our power grid to create ... to paralyze our financial system in this country to virtually paralyze our country. And I think we have to be prepared not only to defend against that kind of attack but if necessary we are going to have to be prepared to be able to be aggressive when it comes to cyber efforts as well. We've got to develop the technology, the capability, we've got to be able to defend this country.

Panetta to Pelley: Iran will not be allowed nukes
60 Minutes: Cyber War, sabotaging the System
Pentagon: Cyber warfare skills inadequate
North Korea waging cyber warfare?

Pelley: Is it fair to characterize your cyber command as currently engaged in battle every day?

Panetta: That's one of the interesting questions. What constitutes an act of war when it comes to cyber warfare? Countries use cyber as a way to exploit information. I think the Chinese use it as a way to gain information in the business arena. But if a cyber effort were made that, in fact, crippled this country or paralyzed this country or hit a major grid system then you have to ask the question does this constitute an act of war?

Secretary Panetta is Bob Schieffer's guest this Sunday on "Face the Nation."

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

Comments

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

On Twitter

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download
The all new
CBS News App for Android® for iPad® for iPhone®
Fully redesigned. Featuring CBSN, 24/7 live news. Get the App