According to Wall St. Journal reporter Bret Stephens, 2008 winner of the Eric Breindel Awardfor Excellence in Journalism, Cyber-threats have the potential to pose a pernicious impact equivalent in numbers to an atomic bomb. Perhaps the outpouring of recent news stories on cyber crime has anesthetized much of the public, but our government says it is hard at work at combating the ever-increasing threat.
However, Stephens cautions that the response to this type of threat requires we treat it with the level of critical attention we would expend to a threat of a weapon of mass destruction. Wikipedia does not yet include a Cyber-threat as a weapon of mass destruction.
News broke out last week that hackers had gained access to our electrical grid. What does this mean for you? At first glance, this could simply mean an inconvenient weekend without power is in your future, but what happens when rogue elements turn off air conditioning and heat for extended periods? Stephens answers succinctly, “Thousands of people die.” This is not a situation that can be resolved by a navy sharpshooter, it’s not one person and they are not within range.
Here is a video of a staged cyber attack on a power generator. What’s one generator? Not much, but what happens when a critical number of generators are wiped out and the grid fails? According to renowned cyber-security expert and the Acting Senior Director for Cyberspace for the National Security and Homeland Security Councils, Melissa Hathaway, “Bad-guy hackers pulling the plug on public utilities…. this is more than a mere fictional scare to U.S. intelligence officials“.
Scott Borg, Director and Chief Economist of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit states, “This is no longer about perimeter defense…People aren’t aware that everything has changed.” The proposed 2010 budget of President Obama discloses a public allocation of $355 million towards cyber security. The word within the local government contracting space is that perceptions are bound to change following the 60 day Cyber Security review which concludes later this month. Click here to read more on “Hiroshima 2.0“.