String of cyber attacks threat to U.S. security?

Japanese video game developer Sega announced Sunday that hackers broke into its database and stole the personal information of more than one million customers.

The breach, CBS News Correspondent Elaine Quijano reports, is just the latest in a string of cyber-attacks on corporations, government contractors, and even the CIA.

Last week, computer hackers forced a shutdown of the CIA's public website for more than two hours. It claims no sensitive information was at risk, but Internet security experts say it was still a huge embarrassment for the for the government's top spy agency.

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Jim Stickley, co-founder of TraceSecurity, a cyber security company, told CBS News, "It's never a good thing when you're the CIA and your website has data talking about a hacker. "

While the attack was deemed harmless, the same can't be said of the breach of government contractor Lockheed Martin last month. That's when the nation's top weapons manufacturer discovered the system enabling employee's remote access may have been compromised.

Some suspect foreign governments were responsible for the attack.

Stickley said, "Now, with governments getting involved, it's moved from the personal attacks to going after the government attacks and going at a much more scary level."

It's this threat of foreign cyber-espionage that prompted the National Security Agency to announce it's stepping in to assist government contractors like Lockheed Martin better secure their data.

A wave of attacks has hit private businesses, as well. On Friday, banking giant Citigroup revealed that more than 360,000 customers had credit card information compromised - nearly double its original estimate from a month ago. But it's all par for the course in an era of online consumers, according to experts.

TraceSecurity's Stickley says, "Someone is going to get your data eventually. I don't think it's a matter of if.  ... It's just that data is propagated so much, it's just everywhere, and every day, a new company is being hacked; your data probably by now has already been hacked. It would be shocking if it wasn't."

The escalation of computer hacking now has the Pentagon calling for any cyber-threat to the nation's infrastructure - like the country's power grid- - to be considered an "act of war" -- virtual threats subject to a very real military response.

On "The Early Show," national security expert and retired Navy Cmdr. Peter Brookes, a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, said the Pentagon is currently trying to discern what should be considered an act of hostility.

"We're expecting an unclassified version of the Pentagon's report in the coming days," he said. "We have decided that certain things will be considered an act of hostility, such as an attack on our infrastructure."

Brookes added, "We know the Chinese and the Russians have mapped our electrical grids, and we have three major electrical grids, and if there was a possibility of war between our countries, they might turn out the lights, which would be a major distraction to our national command authorities. This is a very interesting thing (that) many of us are waiting to see exactly where the government comes down on."

What can average Americans do to protect themselves and their information?

Brookes advised that people keep virus security on their personal devices up-to-date.

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