Tags: GlobalPost | cyber | warfare | coming

GlobalPost: Cyber Warfare Is Coming to a City Near You

By    |   Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:26 AM

Internet warfare is likely inevitable soon, in part because it would be relatively simple for even a small group of hackers to do calamitous damage to American cities and infrastructure, according to GlobalPost.

Just a partial list of potential cyber-induced disasters would include derailed trains, wholesale destruction of utilities, chemical leaks and water-supply contamination, all of which could cause mass casualties and an overnight meltdown of the economy.

According to GlobalPost, “catastrophic infrastructure failure” may need only the spark of a small change in a line of software code by malevolent foes of the U.S.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

“We don’t even know if you have to have really good network intelligence, be sustainable in your attacks or have persistent access,” said Timothy Junio, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, of the low barriers of entry for cyber terrorism.

“All technical experts agree that critical infrastructure in the U.S. is highly vulnerable,” said Junio. “I can’t think of any technical study where someone has done penetration testing against a critical infrastructure site and came back saying ‘yes this is fine.’”

A growing number of nations have formed specialized military units, such as the U.S. Cyber Command, to combat organized Internet security threats.

But GlobalPost found those military units are grievously hampered by a pre-existing lack of defenses in the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Experts told GlobalPost that “computer systems that manage critical infrastructure are plagued by security vulnerabilities that would shock anyone with a rudimentary understanding of how to secure a personal computer, let alone a power grid.”

Many of those systems apparently use passwords hardcoded by the manufacturer that can be found via Google search, and many can be accessed via penetration of an email account.

According to GlobalPost, a significant part of the problem is that many of those critical
infrastructure systems were created before widespread use of the Internet, thus are outdated.

In 2012 alone, U.S. computers were the target of nearly 9 million malware attacks. The threat is escalating, according to Reuters.

A congressional subcommittee report found some power utilities routinely endure a stream of cyber-attacks on their critical systems, and the Obama administration recently warned that foreign hackers were “trying to bring down the U.S. power grid,” Reuters reported.

But Gerry Cauley, CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., said there has never yet been a successful destructive cyber attack on the U.S. power grid, and that he worries more about a physical attack on the power grid than a digital one.

Editor’s Note: Put the World’s Top Financial Minds to Work for You

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Internet warfare is likely inevitable soon, in part because it would be relatively simple for even a small group of hackers to do calamitous damage to American cities and infrastructure, according to GlobalPost.
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Sunday, 26 May 2013 09:26 AM
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