Federal officials are raising awareness that a terrorist's next target will likely involve America's broadband networks beneath the ground and wireless signals in the air.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last week told a Senate panel and House Armed Services Committee members that cyberattacks are the nation's top threat.
Lawmakers are now working toward legislation to safeguard the country's cybersecurity infrastructure.
"It's a complex problem with very few simple solutions," said U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg.
Perry serves on the House's homeland security committee and cybersecurity subcommittee.
"There's bipartisan concern and bipartisan support. We all recognize something must be done," he said.
The danger: Without greater protections in place, hackers could attack the nation's massive power grid, causing regional power outages and chaos, Clapper said to the panel.
There have been 140 cyberattacks on Wall Street during the last six months, and last year Iran attacked five top U.S. banks, Pentagon officials told the House Armed Services Committee last week.
Iran is now capable of carrying out a larger attack, Clapper said.
"It's hard to overemphasize the threat," he said to the committee last week.
After several cyber attacks by foreign hackers, President Barack Obama signed an executive order last month that instructed federal officials to develop a cybersecurity framework for private industries.
"The (National Security Agency), FBI and Homeland Security are working out a framework to better protect our cyber infrastructure every single day," Perry said.
Struggles: Congress is working through legislation to combat the problem, but it comes with its share of struggles, he said.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said the Senate worked on a cybersecurity deal last year, but it ultimately went nowhere.
"How to offer protection while also maintaining privacy has been a big issue," he said.
Perry said citizens have a right to be concerned about their privacy, and he'd like to hear from those constituents.
"If they have specific concerns, I'd like them to weigh in. I'd like to be part of the solution and echo their comments to the committee," he said.
Companies: Utility companies that serve the York area are also working with federal officials to better protect their networks.
Met-Ed has a cybersecurity policy and plan in effect and routinely follows recommendations from state and federal agencies, according to spokesman Scott Surgeoner.
The power provider has a department devoted to cybersecurity, monitoring and maintaining the company's systems 24/7, he said.
"Outside of that, we don't discuss our cybersecurity operations," Surgeoner said.
Columbia Gas also has protections in place.
"We have a strong collaborative approach from private and government sectors," said spokeswoman Rachel Ford.
To protect its infrastructure, the company has collaborated closely with Homeland Security, the FBI, the American Gas Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and cybersecurity experts, she said.
The gas provider's protection standards and security practices have developed and evolved for more than 20 years, Ford said.
"Our ongoing cybersecurity developments are considered among the best in the industry," she said.
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Taking precautions against cyber threats
How to protect yourself against cyber attacks:
---Never click on links in emails. If you think the email is legitimate, go to the site advertised in the link and log on directly.
---Never open the attachments. Typically, retailers will not send emails with attachments.
---Do not give out personal information in an email or on the phone unless completely sure you're working with a trusted agent.
---Set secure passwords and don't share them with anyone. Avoid using common words, phrases or personal information, and update passwords regularly.
---Keep your operating system, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date.
---Verify the authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly.
---Pay close attention to website URLs. Malicious websites use a variation in common spelling or a different domain, such as .com instead of .net, to deceive computer users.
---For email, turn off the option to automatically download attachments.
---Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text messages.
Source: Homeland Security