Monday, November 21, 2011

Cyber attacks on utility infrastructure through public Internet are happening, according to Privacy Clearninghouse; bundling of land line phone can lead to home security holes

A story by Selena  Frye in Tech Republic, “Warning: this privacy website might depress you”, link here  was link-tweeted today by Webroot.

The story is about a database in the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse that has come up with some incidents where the operation of a public utilities in the United States was compromise by cyber attack. One story concerned a water pump in Illinois.  In 2002, some critics started warning that utilities could be vulnerable to terrorists with cyberattacks, but most people wondered why they were even accessible through the public Internet. 

One could peruse the Privacy Clearinghouse Chronology of Data Breaches, link here.  

There’s a least another reason for your power to go out.

Here’s something else: cable and FIOS companies are bundling land-line phone service with television and Internet. Home security systems are dependent on land-line connections, and a bundled service may be much less robust against both natural disasters and possibly deliberate attacks.  The cable and home security industries need to start working together on this.
Update: Nov. 26

There are later reports that the water pump failure was caused by a foreign contractor but not by malware or hacking itself. Ellen Nakashima has the story Nov. 25 here.

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