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U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned yesterday that the United States needs to beef up its defenses against cyber attacks or risk suffering an attack that’s the equivalent of 9/11. In a speech in Manhattan, Panetta cited the recent attacks on the Web sites of big U.S. banks, as well as an attack last summer on Middle Eastern energy companies that disabled 30,000 computers.

The Defense Secretary warned that cyber attacks could threaten the U.S. electrical grid, transportation system and other components of the country’s infrastructure. The Defense Department is taking steps to counter such cyber attacks, he said, but urged Congress to pass cyber security legislation.

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