"Cybersecurity” is definitely a buzzword these days, mainly because cybercrime is such a different kind of attack – one that’s behind the scenes and often difficult to detect. It is relatively inexpensive to organize from the attacker’s perspective, yet it can have devastating effects on the economy, emergency services, critical infrastructure and many other sectors.
What’s worse, the United States is the world’s primary target in the cyber world. According to Statista, the US was the victim of 50 percent of the cybercrime that occurred in 2014.
An age of cyber-physical attack
Although public safety agencies and businesses are preparing for cybercrime now more than ever, they’re also focusing on internal procedures without much care about how smaller cybercrimes fuel larger, multi-organization attacks. Many organizations have information technology experts on hand ready to mitigate and even prevent breaches, but they aren’t communicating with their partners and vendors when issues do happen, which enables cybercrime to continue under the radar.
Let’s look at a realistic scenario: Maps and codes are breached from a county facility, followed by personnel information being stolen from a city database a few days later, followed by a cyber attack on a water treatment facility weeks later that effectively shuts off the water supply to a local population. This series of events was part of a larger, coordinated attack, but each agency would likely respond to each incident internally, or within its own jurisdiction. If information is shared with the right people early on, then we can prevent that crippling physical attack. Criminals are discovering how they can use cyber schemes to pull off physical attacks, yet we often do not see the larger picture of what is happening until it is too late.
Read the complete report in the April 2016 issue of Homeland Security Today.