'I live in a world of nightmares,' Says French Cyber Expert

International cybersecurity experts recently discussed ways to promote international cooperation on cybersecurity issues at the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit held in Texas. The experts also raised their concerns regarding the possibility of a catastrophic event that could cause significant damage to computer networks.

“I live in a world of nightmares,”  said Patrick Pailloux, director general of France’s Network and Information Security Agency. “My biggest nightmare is that we don’t have enough time to prepare us for the nightmares.”

“Each subject is a nightmare: electricity, power grids, transportation, airplanes, water supply, finance, the banking system, the health system,” Pailloux said.

Howard Schmidt, the current Cybersecurity Coordinator at the White House, said that his nightmare scenario would involve a loss of communications.

“You have some kind of a physical event — whether it’s a natural disaster, whether it’s a direct attack — and you somehow because of a cyber insecurity do not have an ability to communicate or direct emergency response,” Schmidt said. “As far as a single incident that could take place that’s probably the one I worry about the most.”

Melissa Hathaway, who led the Cyberspace Policy Review, believes that the energy sector in the U.S. is particularly vulnerable.

“The energy sector is really the Achilles heel of every nation and every business and every citizen,” Hathaway said.

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