The risk of a devastating cyberattack on the United States is real. Yet the country remains vulnerable to an electronic Pearl Harbor due to a political dispute over the role the federal government should play in securing the computer networks that control the electrical grid, water supply and other critical sectors.
Obama wants the owners of essential U.S. infrastructure to meet minimum cybersecurity standards. But Republicans in Congress say the president's approach will only lead to costly, time-consuming regulations that won't reduce the risk. Romney says Obama has failed to lead on a critical national security issue.
While Congress bickers, the Pentagon worries. "The uncomfortable reality of our world today is that bits and bytes can be as threatening as bullets and bombs," Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers.
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