The Cyber Security Intrusions That Should Scare You Most
By Andrew Ramirez
What if I were to tell you that you could lose your house, water, or power for weeks if the critical infrastructure in your town was hit by a cyber-attack?
In recent news the United States government is establishing a new office of Cyber security, Energy Security, and Emergency Response through the US Department of Energy. You may be asking yourself well what does infrastructure have to deal with cyber security? You may not have heard, but in 2016 a dam in Rye Brooke, N.Y. was hacked into by Iranian hackers acting for the Iran Revolutionary Guard, a subset of the Iran military. This is big deal in the grand scheme of things although the dam only had the power to really only flood a few basements, and a baseball Park. Activist across the globe are now capable of crippling critical infrastructure such as dams, power grids, etc causing extreme damage for little to no cost, while half way across the globe. This is very appealing to cyber actors, because the attacks on infrastructure render thousands of individuals without power, water, or other basic necessities that support foundation of our daily lives. In 2015 we witnessed the first major infrastructure attack on an electrical power grid when almost 200,000 Ukrainians were left without power for hours. There is no doubt that with the increase in successful attacks and frequency of attacks that this problem is much larger than most people perceive. It is no longer the case that just companies are hacked for their valuable information, instead these attack have become malicious in their intent to harm individuals, and can have militarized capabilities just as the dam in Rye Brooke was attacked Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps.
In my opinion this was a very strategic move by the government. There is no doubt that the threat of cyber-attacks will play a major role in any future war. I am pleased that they are taking notice of an especially critical part of the daily lives of American citizens. Imagine if the Hoover Dam was had been hit by an attack, the immense release of the water would have tsunami like effects on the surrounding area, not only crippling the power structure supplied by the water, but also devastation the environment. It was even seen that hackers could alter the water treatment, flow, and chemical input in a water treatment plant. Many organization and agencies do not currently even have cyber security protocols in place, creating an opportunity to silently strike with deadly results before the intrusion is even detected. For example, the Department of Transportation has no protocol which could lead to extreme consequences. The threat of cyber security attacks should no longer just share consumers of companies, but has now reached a level in which voters should take keen awareness to in future elections.