CIA Chief Leon Panetta: Cyberattack Could Be 'Next Pearl Harbor'

Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee for a confirmation hearing for his appointment as the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta warned that the U.S. could face cyberwarfare in battles to come.

“The next Pearl Harbor we confront could very well be a cyber attack that cripples our power systems, our grid, our security systems, our financial systems, our governmental systems,” Panetta said.

Though he talked on subjects ranging from Libya to withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to the war on terrorism, Panetta highlighted his concerns regarding the U.S.'s preparedness for cyberattacks.

“This is a real possibility in today’s world,” he said. “As a result, I think we have to aggressively be able to counter that. It is going to take both defensive measures as well as aggressive measures to deal with it.”

The Obama administration recently unveiled its proposal for global cybersecurity. Statements from the Pentagon have also indicated that the government will consider cyberattacks originating from foreign countries to be equivalent to acts of war meriting military response.