Safe at Home? Cyber-Security Chief Amit Yoran

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, December 9, 2003, that was edited for clarity.

Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: It won't really kill anyone. It won't make a sound. But it will tear this economy apart.

I am talking about a cyber attack. And if you don't think terrorists are planning one, my next guest says you might want to think again. Joining us now is Amit Yoran. He is our nation's cyber-security chief. He's in charge of protecting our computer networks.

Amit, good to have you.

AMIT YORAN, U.S. CYBER-SECURITY CHIEF: Thanks for having me, Neil.

CAVUTO: How real is this?

YORAN: Well, I think cyber threats are very real. On an ongoing basis, our computer systems are constantly being tested, constantly being probed. So it's a very real concern.

CAVUTO: And with all these viruses, it is relatively easy to do, isn't it?

YORAN: Well, these viruses, the worms we have experienced are certainly one flavor of those attacks.

CAVUTO: All right. So let's say you are able to, on a massive scale, get into people's credit profiles, and that sort of thing. Obviously the damage is huge, right?

YORAN: I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but certainly, an adversary or someone with that intent could do a significant amount of damage, targeting...

CAVUTO: What would be the goal? If you are doing that, if you are trying to go after something like that, what would your goal be, to financially dislocate everybody?

YORAN: Well, there could be many goals, but I would say there are two areas of primary focus. The first is in the actual operations of the Internet and in our communications infrastructure, making sure that that system is protected and not disrupted in any way. And the second area is in how our other critical infrastructures have connectivity with our cyber systems and our computer systems, making sure an adversary can't use our computer systems and our technology against the power grid or against our financial services institutions.

CAVUTO: Could you hit both at the same time?

YORAN: Well, certainly the communications medium supports multiple-pronged attacks. Rather than creating a sense of hysteria about this, what I would propose is that we continue to improve our response capabilities, our preparedness, so that as we continue to experience the attacks and the probes that we experience on a day-to-day basis, that we are better prepared to defend against them.

CAVUTO: I agree with you, and believe me, I'm not an alarmist.

YORAN: Sure.

CAVUTO: I'm not trying to make a bigger deal out of this. But when I see teenagers able to shut down a bank's network -- and they've done that - - and I'm wondering, what would, you know, sinister sources linked to Al Qaeda be able to do?

YORAN: Well, again, all of these infrastructures are of vital importance. What are Al Qaeda's capabilities versus the teenage hackers that you referenced, versus...

CAVUTO: What do you think their computer sophistication is?

YORAN: Well, really, this is where the Department of Homeland Security -- and the National Cybersecurity Division, which I head up, is part of the Department of Homeland Security, and that really is where we fuse the thread and the intelligence information with our existing understanding of risk and the vulnerabilities of our critical infrastructures to those threats. Where we help the private sector in many instances, the folks that own and operate these infrastructures, we help them better defend their portion of this national interest.

CAVUTO: And have you stopped any of this?

YORAN: Oh, we have. Absolutely. We do each and every day on an ongoing and continual basis. And not only we at the Department of Homeland Security...

CAVUTO: What is this biggest thing you have stopped?

YORAN: We've stopped a number of attacks which have been focused on specific systems which have been targeted, new technologies.

CAVUTO: Our utilities?

YORAN: There are certainly attacks against utilities, as well as other sensitive systems. But it is really, again, not only DHS's efforts, but in collaboration with, and in cooperation with, the private sector and their efforts to protect their systems.

CAVUTO: We wish you luck. Amit Yoran, thank you very, very much.

YORAN: Thank you, Neil.

Content and Programming Copyright 2003 Fox News Network, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2003 eMediaMillWorks, Inc. (f/k/a Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Fox News Network, Inc.'s and eMediaMillWorks, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.