Cyberattacks to critical infrastructure threaten our safety and well-being


What would happen if you could no longer use the technological systems that you rely on every day? I’m not talking about your smart phone or laptop computer, but all those systems many of us often take for granted and don’t think about.

What if you could not turn on the lights or power your refrigerator? What if you could not get through to emergency services when you dial 911? What if you could not access your bank account, get safe drinking water or even flush your toilet?

According to Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure, critical infrastructure refers to the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of the public and the effective functioning of government.

Disruptions to these kinds of systems, especially those caused by cyberattacks, can have devastating consequences. That’s why these systems are called critical infrastructure.

A string of attacks

Over the past six months, the fragility of critical infrastructure has been given plenty of attention. This has been driven by a string of notable cyberattacks on several critical infrastructure sectors.

It was revealed that in late March 2021, CNA Financial Corp., one of the largest insurance companies in the United States was victim to a ransomware attack. As a result, the company faced disruptions of their systems and networks.

In May 2021, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline halted plant operations for six days. The attack led to a fuel crisis and increased prices in the eastern U.S.

MSNBC looks at the cybersecurity concerns raised by the attack on Colonial Pipeline.

Weeks later, in June 2021, a ransomware attack hit JBS USA Holdings, Inc., one of the world’s largest meat producers. This attack brought about supply chain turmoil in Canada, the U.S. and Australia.

Also in June 2021, the Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Steamship Authority was victim of a ransomware attack that disrupted ferry services and caused service delays.

Fragile infrastructures

On Oct. 14, 2021, hot on the heels of cyberattacks targeting…

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