The West is losing the worldwide fight against jihadist terrorism and faces mounting risks of a systemic cyber-assault by extremely capable enemies, the former chief of the National Security Agency has warned.
“The greatest risk is a catastrophic attack on the energy infrastructure. We are not prepared for that,” said General Keith Alexander, who has led the US battle against cyber-threats for much of the last decade.
Gen Alexander said the “doomsday” scenario for the West is a hi-tech blitz on refineries, power stations, and the electric grid, perhaps accompanied by a paralysing blow to the payments nexus of the major banks.
“We need something like an integrated air-defence system for the whole energy sector,” he said, speaking at a private dinner held by IHS CERAWeek in Texas.
More insidiously, there is now a systematic effort by state-backed hacking teams to steal technology from Western companies. “This is the biggest wealth transfer in history,” he said.