The Department of Homeland Security has declared the United States has 16 “critical infrastructure sectors.” Translated, that means these enterprises are crucial to a safe and orderly society. The sectors include: food and agriculture, water, medical and health care, energy, transportation, telecommunications, law enforcement and, of course, our defense systems.
With increasing regularity foreign-based cybercriminals are attacking these vital systems and temporarily crippling essential services. Why? Sometimes these keyboard terrorists simply want to create mayhem. More often they are mining for government or corporate secrets, and quite often they seek ransom before they unblock a victim’s disabled computer system.
Item: On June 1, we learned JBS, the world’s largest meat producer, suffered a massive ransomware attack and had to cease operations at 13 U.S. processing plants. There was worry consumers might face a beef, pork and poultry shortage. Thankfully, the company had cybersecurity plans in place, and the shutdown was short.
Item: On May 8, the Colonial Pipeline, a major energy supplier that carries 100 million gallons of gasoline daily to customers between Houston and New York, was paralyzed by a cyberattack. Operators were forced to shut down the entire system to stem the damage. Panicked gas buying resulted. A Bitcoin ransom was paid to restore normalcy. In a rare move the FBI was able to claw back some $2 million of the payout.
Item: In December 2020, Solar Winds, a major U.S. technology firm, was reported to have discovered its system had been infiltrated for months by computer criminals who were after sensitive corporate and government intelligence. The hackers were able to spy on private companies like Microsoft and top officials within the U.S. government including the Treasury Department and, yes, even Homeland Security.
Item: Last October, in the worst days of the pandemic, hospitals across the U.S….