Creating Havoc from a Keyboard
America’s next major security threat could come from the very computer you’re using to read this blog.
Cyberattacks on private and public enterprises in 2011 resulted in a global financial loss of $344 billion. Today, the cost of cybercrime is estimated at almost $1 trillion. While cyberattacks traditionally target commercial sectors, Verizon’s 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) highlighted a rising trend in attacks on government networks and critical infrastructure sectors such as utilities, healthcare, and transportation. Cyber infrastructure is the backbone of a variety of public services. As cyberattacks shift from e-commerce hacking to targeted infrastructure strikes, imagine the chaos behind attacks on our energy resources. Our power grid collapsing. Banking networks breached. Gas and oil pipelines shut down. These scenarios create wide-scale crises in energy, public health, and public safety, and present vulnerable moments for potential terrorist attacks.
Cyber infrastructure protection begins in the private sector. Companies own and operate the majority of our intermodal transportation systems. They service our utilities – gas, electricity, water. They manage our energy infrastructure from power plants to nuclear facilities. And they manage our healthcare systems. But can companies alone prevent a sophisticated cyberattack? While industry security standards and best practices exist, they are not enough.
In February, President Obama signed an executive order to improve critical infrastructure cybersecurity which authorizes the release of cyber threat information to critical infrastructure managers in a private-public partnership. Cyber “insurance” is another trend among companies looking to mitigate risk in these sectors.
The government should not wait to invest in scalable cybersecurity for developing technologies and promoting risk awareness and education. A weak cyber infrastructure bears a heavy price tag for the American economy today. When you consider the potential for disaster to public safety and security, the costs become personal. Cyber infrastructure protection is an investment in public safety and a safeguard to protect our increasingly modernizing society.