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US vulnerable to cyber-Pearl Harbour, says Panetta

The US faces the possibility of a "cyber-Pearl Harbour," becoming increasingly vulnerable to hackers.

Washington: The US faces the possibility of a "cyber-Pearl Harbour," becoming increasingly vulnerable to hackers who could cripple transportation and financial networks, US Defense Secretary Leon E Panetta has warned.

Cyber attacks that have long caused major work disruption and theft of private information are becoming more sophisticated, with prolonged attacks perpetrated by organised groups.

In Sep 2012, Bank of America, Citibank, the New York Stock Exchange, and other financial institutions were targets of cyber attacks. The attacks lasted over five weeks.

Key to protecting online operations is a high degree of "cyber security awareness," according to researchers Varun Dutt, Young-Suk Ahn, and Cleotilde Gonzalez of the Dynamic Decision Making Lab (DDML) at Carnegie Mellon University.

These researchers developed a computer model that presented 500 simulated cyber attack scenarios to gauge simulated network security analysts` ability to detect attacks characterised as either "impatient" (the threat occurs early in the attack) or "patient" (the threat comes later in the attack and is not detected promptly), according to a DDML statement.

"Application of our results include the design of training tools that increase competency and the development of decision-support tools that improve defenders` on-the-job performance in detecting cyber attacks."

As cyber warfare strategies and tactics evolve, the authors plan to further investigate the trend of drawn-out attacks and new intrusion detection software.


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