During a roundtable discussion with the Time magazine editorial board, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta echoed his belief that the U.S. is facing threats in cyber warfare he thinks could be as destructive as the 9/11 attacks .
According to Mark Thompson‘s account of the Thursday meeting, Panetta estimated the country’s cyber war skills at about eight points using a 10-point scale.
The others are probably at three, he told the magazine during his visit to New York City, but added adversaries are quickly moving up the scale.
Pentagon leaders are drafting rules of engagement for conducting warfare in cyber space, allowing the Pentagon to defend other U.S. networks in and out of government.
As the country’s financial center, New York is particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks against critical infrastructure, Panetta said.
An attack could take down a power grid, transportation system, water system and financial system, he told the editors.
Panetta also identified Russia, Iran and China as potential adversaries developing cyber capabilities.