Nightly News | October 12, 2012
>>> and when the secretary of defense warns of a possible pending attack, it gets our attention. and this one just did, the new warning of the consequences of a cyber attack by iran that could create trouble in this area. our report.
>> reporter: it is predicted that cyber space will be the world's next big battle field. but defense secretary leon panetta warned that the threat of a defense cyber attack against america is already here.
>> the corrective result of these kinds of attacks could be a cyber pearl harbor .
>> reporter: panetta warned that cyber attackers have tried to shut down america's critical infrastructure , power, water, transportation and major financial institutions .
>> such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could virtually paralyze the nation.
>> reporter: while russia and china are prime suspects, for the first time u.s. officials blame iran for the recent jump in cyber attacks. officials tell them iran was around the recent attempts to disable the website to several u.s. banks. those attacks failed, but another attack nearly shut down saudi arabia 's oil production . using a website, they destroyed 30,000 computers. experts say this complex attack should be a warning to the u.s.
>> we do not have the proper level of security within the financial sector or the oil and gas sector, or any of our critical oil structures.
>> reporter: officials say if they pose a threat, the u.s. could launch their own cyber attack to shut down iran 's cyber system. but they warn it is a battlefield filled with many enemies, and that the u.s. and others must do more to combat this threat.