Defense Secretary nominee and former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said during his Senate confirmation hearing this morning that cybersecurity is as dangerous a threat to the nation's defense as any other threat given cyber's ability to wreak havoc quickly and across a variety of crucial systems. "Cyber, I believe, presents as big a threat to our country as any one specific threat. It’s an insidious, quiet kind of a threat that we’ve never quite seen before."
In an exchange with Senator Mark Udall (D-CO), Hagel said the potential damage of a cybersecurity attack could be very wide-scale. "It can paralyze a nation in just a second. Not just the power grid or a banking system. It can knock out satellites, it can take down computers on all our carrier battle ships. It can do tremendous damage to our national security apparatus."
But, he said, it's not an easily tackled issue. "This is law enforcement, this is privacy, this is business, so a lot of complications that we’ve really never ever had to face before on national defense threats to this country."
Cybersecurity will be a top priority for the Defense Department, Hagel suggested. "Cyber will be an area that we will continue to focus on and an area that I will put a high priority on if I’m confirmed to be Secretary of Defense."