We have written about the possibility of an electro-magnetic pulse (EMP) attack against the US and how it would devastate our way of life and these cyberattacks are on the same level. We have become so dependent on computers that a strike at any one major sector of the economy could have major impacts on our lives as the effects would cascade through the country. For example, an attack on the electric grid could cause outages that would make the 2004 one day outage (most of the eastern part of the country was knocked out by a mechanical failure), look like a blip on the screen. We could be shut down for weeks.
The danger we see with either of an EMP or a cyberattack is that we are not prepared for either. We have no backup plans. Within days, people would run out of fuel, water and food which would cause major panics throughout the country. If it went on for an extended period, say a month, there could be thousands, if not millions dying of starvation. It would be even worse if the event occurred in the winter when being able to heat homes would become even more imperative.
Yet our government has no plans and most people who have established some sort of "emergency stockpile" might not be able to protect it and themselves from those who would do anything to get a meal or fuel their car or heat their home. Isn't it the job of government to protect its people from "enemies foreign and domestic?" If so, they fail again.
This is not an issue that will go away with the election of a new President and Congress, it is going to be a permanent threat for the foreseeable future. Our leaders must understand the concerns that Secretary Panetta expresses and then take steps to institute plans to protect us. Otherwise, we only invite some rogue country or despot to take us down without firing a shot!