A cyberattack of devastating proportions is not a matter of if, but when, numerous security experts believe.
And the scale of it, one information security specialist said this week, will be such that it will have its own name — like Pearl Harbor or 9/11.
"The more I speak to people, the more they think that the next Pearl Harbor is going to be a cyberattack," cybersecurity executive and professional hacker Tarah Wheeler told a panel audience during the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) annual forum in Paris.
"I think that the most horrifying cybersecurity attack is going to have its own name and I think it's going to involve something more terrifying than we've thought of yet."
Wheeler is CEO and principal security advisor at Red Queen Technologies, a cybersecurity fellow at Washington, D.C.-based think tank New America, and former cybersecurity czar at multinational software firm Symantec.
Explaining her premonition, Wheeler pointed to vital health and transport infrastructure she described as grossly under-protected.
"I think about the fact that most American healthcare technology is secured, if at all, with ancient, crumbling security infrastructure. I think of planes full of people, the kind of infrastructure that protects flu vaccinations. I think about fertility clinics losing years' worth of viable embryos," she said, stressing that people are not paying attention to that crumbling infrastructure.