A panel of technology experts is warning that the fabled electronic pearl harbor will occur within the next ten years.
66 percent of respondents to a survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project concluded that at least one devastating attack will occur in the next ten years on the networked information infrastructure or the country's power grid.
In response to the survey one expert wrote, "A simple scan of the growing number of and growing sophistication of viral critters already populating our networks is ample evidence of the capacity and motivation to disrupt."
The survey did not detail exactly what 'devastating' meant, prompting a few respondents to question if such terminology was a little strong. Types of devastating attacks predicted range from attacks on key infrastructures or industries or physical attacks on central parts of the internet infrastructure.
"I'm willing to go along with ten years," said Richard Starnes, president of trade body ISSA. "At the moment it's still easier to drive a lorry full of modified explosives into an area and disable it that way. It's currently feasible to mount an attack but not cost-effective from a terrorist point of view."
If the attack were to be of a form without casualties one respondent to the survey took a sunnier view. "Maybe it will just cause a holiday where we come, blinking, out into the sunlight for an afternoon," he said.