October 31, 2014 07:41 UTC

Science & Technology

American Lawmakers Concerned about Cyber Attacks

Congressman compares threat from cyber attacks to the terrorist threat faced by the United States on September 11 | TECHNOLOGY REPORT

A security analyst looks at code at a cyber defense lab in the U.S.
A security analyst looks at code at a cyber defense lab in the U.S.

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the TECHNOLOGY REPORT in Special English.
 
The head of an American congressional committee recently expressed concern about the threat of cyber attacks from China, Iran and other countries. Michael McCaul spoke at a meeting of the House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee. Congressman McCaul compared the threat from cyber attacks to the terrorist threat faced by the United States on September 11, 2001. But he added that this time the nation knows about the threat and is taking steps to fight it.
 
“We know that foreign nations are conducting reconnaissance on our utilities. They are penetrating our gas and water systems and also our energy grids. And if the ability to send a silent attack through our digital networks falls into our enemies’ hands, this country could be the victim of a devastating attack. Yet, while threats are imminent, no major cyber security legislation has been enacted since 2003.”
 
Several other lawmakers expressed concern about reports that China is to blame for most attacks against American computers and computer networks. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Jane Lute told the committee that the Obama administration believes the attacks are an important issue.
 
“We have raised this issue of the attacks that are emanating from actors in China, with Chinese authorities. We’ve called on them to acknowledge it, take it seriously, understand it, to investigate it and stop it, and to work with us in creating broad norms of responsible cyber behavior.”
 
President Obama told ABC News last Tuesday that there has been a steady increase in the threat to cyber security from other nations and from criminals. He said the United States has taken part in what he called “tough talk” with China and other nations. 
Last week, a Chinese foreign ministry official said China is open to talks. But the official said China is a victim, and not responsible for computer crimes.
 
In February, President Obama signed an executive order dealing with cyber security. The order directs American agencies to improve information sharing on cyber threats. However, such orders do not carry the power of law.
 
A Senate bill on cyber security last year failed to get enough votes to pass. Some business groups and privacy rights activists expressed opposition to the measure. A new cyber security bill has been introduced in the House.
 
The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, spoke to Senators last week about cyber attacks. He noted that America’s biggest national security threat could come now from a computer keyboard instead of a terrorist bomb.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • A convoy of peshmerga vehicles is escorted by Turkish Kurds on their way to the Turkish-Syrian border, in Kiziltepe near the southeastern city of Mardin October 29, 2014

    Audio Iraqi Kurdish Fighters Enter Kobani

    Also in the news, Burkina Faso ends efforts to extend its presidential term limit after protests in the capital. Ukraine says the EU will be guarantor in any gas deal with Russia. Myanmar holds a major meeting Friday. And claims of cheating delay SAT results for South Korean and Chinese students. More

  • Ghana Bamboo Bike

    Video Ghana's Bamboo Bikes Hit the Streets

    Bicycle frames are usually made out of materials like carbon fiber, steel or aluminum. But in rural Ghana, a businessman has developed another way to make bicycles from a natural product -- bamboo. The wooden bike parts are sent Ghana to Germany, the Netherlands and Australia. | As It Is More

  • Video Singapore Film Ban Raises Free Speech Issue

    The documentary film, “To Singapore, with Love” tells about political dissidents from Singapore. The film has been shown at public events in Britain, India and Malaysia, among other countries. But one place the movie cannot be seen is Singapore. That is because the government there has banned it. More

  • Believer Benito Martinez (C), dressed as a "devil" wearing a mask, walks around in Almonacid del Marquesado, in central Spain, during the "Endiablada" traditional festival, Feb. 3, 2014.

    Audio A Halloween Special: The Devil is Everywhere ...

    Today we take you to the Dark Side. (insert evil laugh here) We teach expressions that involve the king of evil – the devil. Read on to learn how to “speak of the devil”, “to play devil’s advocate” and to ”make a deal with the devil.” | Words and Their Stories More

  • Orbital Sciences Antares Launch

    Video Questions for NASA after Rocket Explosion

    An unmanned privately-owned rocket bringing supplies to the International Space Station exploded seconds after launch Tuesday night. The accident did not cause any injuries on the ground. However, it has raised questions about efforts by the US space agency NASA to use private companies. More

Featured Stories

  • Obama Halloween

    Audio Halloween Is Big with Kids and Business

    The National Retail Federation says sales of Halloween goods will total about $7.4 billion this year. It says the average American will spend about $77. The group expects 162 million people to celebrate. The NRF predicts 54 million of them will hold Halloween parties. | American Mosaic More

  • A print shows the Second Battle of Bull Run, also called Second Manassas.

    Audio South Defeats North Again at Manassas

    Lincoln named George Pope to lead the Army of Virginia. He wanted to join Pope’s forces with the Army of the Potomac and break through Confederate defenses around Richmond. But General Robert E. Lee decided to hit Pope first. More

  • Star House

    Video Home of Last Comanche Chief Close to Ruins

    One of the most interesting people in U.S. history is Quanah Parker, the last chief of the country’s Comanche Indian tribe. Quanah Parker was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Quanah Parker was a fierce fighter. But that ended one day in 1875. More

  • FILE - A veterinarian at the nonprofit Bali Animal Welfare Association gives a rabies shot to a puppy in Kebon Kaja village, Bangli Regency in Bali, Indonesia.

    Audio Mass Vaccination of Dogs Can Eliminate Rabies

    About 70,000 people worldwide die every year of rabies. Rabies is a viral infection that people get mainly through dog bites. Scientists say vaccinating dogs can effectively get rid of rabies outbreaks in dog populations. And this will have a domino effect, fewer humans with rabies. More

  • Methane oxidizing

    Photogallery Small Organisms in Deep Sea Rocks Eat Methane

    The gas methane has been linked to rising temperatures on Earth. But methane does not stay in the atmosphere as long as another “greenhouse gas” -- carbon dioxide. Scientists say both gases trap heat from the sun. They prevent heat from escaping into outer space. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs