WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned on Thursday that a major cyber attack is a looming threat and could have the same sort of impact as last year’s Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out electricity in a large swathe of the Northeast.

Napolitano said a “cyber 9/11″ could happen “imminently” and that critical infrastructure - including water, electricity and gas - was very vulnerable to such a strike.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world. There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage,” said Napolitano, speaking at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington and referring to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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