Cyber­space is the bat­tle­field of the future, with attackers already going after banks and other finan­cial insti­tu­tions and devel­oping the ability to strike U.S. power grids and gov­ern­ment sys­tems, Defense Sec­re­tary Leon Panetta said on Friday.

William Robertson, an assis­tant pro­fessor at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity in Boston who tes­ti­fied on cyber secu­rity leg­is­la­tion in Con­gress ear­lier this year, said in an inter­view the gov­ern­ment is “quite under­stand­ably wor­ried” about the threat.

I don’t think it’s hyper­bole,” he added. “These kinds of attacks that he’s talking about have actu­ally been going on for quite some time. And they’ve been increasing in inten­sity lately.”

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