ABC News' Yunji de Nies reports:
Calling cyber threats one of the country's "most serious economic and national security challenges," President Obama told an audience in the East Room of the White House that the nation's digital infrastructure has gone unprotected for far too long.
"It's the great irony of our Information Age -- the very technologies that empower us to create and to build, also empower those who would disrupt and destroy," he said. "Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country -- attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against. Indeed, in today's world, acts of terror could come not only from a few extremists in suicide vests but from a few key strokes on the computer -- a weapon of mass disruption."
The president said the United States' economic prosperity, public safety and national security all depend on a secure digital infrastructure, and that he will soon name a new cyber czar who will straddle both his economic and national security teams.
"This is also a matter of public safety and national security. We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water. We rely on them for public transportation and air traffic control. Yet we know that cyber intruders have probed our electrical grid and that in other countries cyber attacks have plunged entire cities into darkness," the president said.
The president has long been viewed as one of the most tech-savvy men to sit in the Oval Office to date. He carries a secure Blackberry , relies heavily on e-mail, and his 2008 campaign's grassroots efforts via the internet was an unprecedented approach to reaching younger voters.
"I know how it feels to have privacy violated," President Obama said, relaying how his campaign website was hacked during the general election.
"Hackers managed to penetrate our computer systems. To all of you who donated to our campaign, I want you to all rest assured, our fundraising website was untouched," he said with a smile.
The president also unveiled a 60-day cyberspace policy review conducted by the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. The review contains a number of suggested mid and long term action plans, including: initiating a national public awareness and education campaign to promote cyber security, prepare cyber security incidence response plan, and create research and development strategies to focus on technology that will enhance security.
-- Yunji de Nies