US launches cyber security plan
Barack Obama said that from now on, America’s digital infrastructure would be treated as a strategic national asset.
He announced the creation of a cyber security office in the White House, and said he would personally appoint a “cyber tsar”.
Both US government and military bodies have reported repeated interference from hackers in recent years.
In 2007 alone the Pentagon reported nearly 44,000 incidents of what it called malicious cyber activity carried out by foreign militaries, intelligence agencies and individual hackers.
Mr Obama pointed out that al-Qaeda and other groups had threatened computer warfare.
The president said the United States was particularly dependent on its computer networks and therefore particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks.
He pointed out that according to one survey, cyber crime cost Americans more than $8bn over the last two years. Worldwide, it was estimated that cyber criminals stole intellectual property from businesses worth up to $1 trillion.
“In short, America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber-security,” he said.