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Obama warns of cyber threats targeting US infrastructure

Barack Obama warned that the US is facing serious cyber threats possibly targeting infrastructure across the country. In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal, the US President called on legislators to take measures to protect systems in control of critical facilities like trains and gas pipelines.

“[C]yber threat to our nation is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face,” he wrote.

Though hackers have not yet managed to “seriously damage or disrupt” any such facilities, Obama highlighted several possibly devastating consequences.

“Taking down vital banking systems could trigger a financial crisis. The lack of clean water or functioning hospitals could spark a public health emergency. And as we've seen in past blackouts, the loss of electricity can bring businesses, cities and entire regions to a standstill,” he wrote.

As such, Obama urged Congress to approve a cybersecurity bill that’s currently on the table. The bill would beef up protection measures by developing cybersecurity standards that all companies responsible for critical infrastructure would be required to abide by.

“We need to make it easier for the government to share threat information so critical-infrastructure companies are better prepared. We need to make it easier for these companies—with reasonable liability protection—to share data and information with government when they're attacked. And we need to make it easier for government, if asked, to help these companies prevent and recover from attacks,” he wrote.

Ironically, the US is thought to have been behind the Flame virus that targeted computers across the Middle East, enabling espionage by allowing infected computers to be remotely controlled.

Image Credit: White House