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Cyber security threat unprecedented: Tom Ridge

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HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — The United States faces unprecedented cyber security threats, says former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge.

“The cyber war's going on,” Mr. Ridge said Monday during a keynote address at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America's annual meeting in Hollywood, Florida.

In fact, what Mr. Ridge called the “digital forevermore” is a new and permanent condition facing the United States.

In a few years, the Internet will be like electricity; it will be everywhere, Mr. Ridge said, and the greatest threat to U.S. security and the economy is the digital world.

“Our infrastructure generally is exposed,” and a successful cyber attack on the nation's infrastructure would have dire effects, he said.

Mr. Ridge, who serves as president and CEO of Washington-based consultant Ridge Global since leaving the Homeland Security post in 2005, also predicted that private cyber insurance will play a bigger role in managing the risk.

He said the federal government is likely to look more closely at the private cyber insurance market as a way to enhance cyber security. He said, however, that he did not know whether the government would eventually step in with a cyber insurance backstop as it has for terrorism risk if the private sector can't provide enough coverage.