In an interview with the Financial Times, John ‘Mike’ McConnell, director of the National Security Agency under President Clinton and then as director of National Intelligence under George W. Bush and President Obama, warns that recent sustained cyber attacks against the websites of several major U.S. banks is the beginning of a new wave of assaults against the nation's banking system.
‘We have had our 9/11 warning,’ says McConnell, vice-chairman at the consulting group Booz Allen Hamilton. ‘Are we going to wait for the cyber equivalent of the collapse of the World Trade Centers?’
Although an Islamist group based in Iran has taken claim for the recent cyber attacks, McConnell doubts whether the Iranian government or a terrorist organization has the current capacity to use cyber attacks as a means of crippling the U.S. financial services industry. However, he believes that the near future could easily see a wider attack.
‘All of a sudden, the power doesn't work, there's no way you can get money, you can't get out of town, you can't get online, and banking, as a function to make the world work, starts to not be reliable,’ he says. ‘Now, that is a cyber Pearl Harbor, and it is achievable.’