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NEW YORK CITY – The next “major attack” on the United States is more likely to take place on the Internet rather than in the air, Kirstjen Nielsen, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said Tuesday.

“DHS was founded 15 years ago to prevent another 9/11, but today I believe the next major attack is more likely to reach us online than on an airplane,” Nielsen told hundreds of private sector leaders and government officials at the department’s first summit on cybersecurity in lower Manhattan. “Cyber threats collectively now exceed the danger of physical attacks against us. This is a major sea change for my department and for our country’s security.”

The article goes on to state the following:

“Don’t get me wrong. Terrorists and criminals still pose a serious threat to our lives, and they are plotting against Americans daily; however, the attack surface in cyberspace is now broader and under more frequent assault,” she added.

Nielsen said the average person does not grasp the seriousness of cyber threats, referring to the millions of people who have had their credit card data compromised as an example.

“Everyone and everything is a target: individuals, industries, infrastructure, institutions, and our international interests,” Nielsen said. “Our adversaries capability online are simply outpacing our stove-piped defenses.”

Nielsen insisted the U.S. will no longer hesitate to hold foreign adversaries accountable for attempts to intrude in U.S. affairs, but said some consequences would remain unseen from the public and media.

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