Is it possible that a remote cyber attack from Russia caused a pump to fail at an Illinois water utility? ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the theory put forward by cyber security expertsÃ‚ cited inÃ‚ numerous media reports.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are said to be investigating the matter, but so far have not confirmed the reports.
According to the Washington Post blog Checkpoint Washington, this cyber attack, if confirmed, would be the first to cause physical damage:
Companies and government agencies that rely on the Internet have for years been routine targets of hackers, but most incidents have resulted from attempts to steal information or interrupt the functioning of Web sites. The incident in Springfield, Ill., would mark a departure because it apparently caused physical destruction.Ã¢â‚¬
An article in LondonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Daily Telegraph cites cyber security experts saying that the reported attack highlights the risk that hackers can break into what is known as Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems.
These are highly specialized computer systems that control critical infrastructure Ã¢â‚¬“ from water treatment facilities to nuclear reactors, to dams and switches on train lines.
A PC World blog post has more on the potential threat to SCADA systems.
As noted in an I.I.I. paper on terrorism risk published earlier this year, U.S. intelligence officials have suspected a major cyber terrorism attack is increasingly possible.
The New York Times, among others, reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been hit by a large and sophisticated cyber attack.
News of the breach at the IMF comesÃ‚ just days after it emergedÃ‚ that a hacker attack at Citibank in May exposed customer account names, numbers and contact information of approximately 1 percent of Citibank’s 21 million users.Ã‚ Ã‚
According to the NYT, concern about the attack at the IMF was so significant that the World Bank cut the computer link that allows the two institutions to share information.
The NYT says:
Because the fund has been at the center of economic bailout programs for Portugal, Greece and Ireland Ã¢â‚¬” and possesses sensitive data on other countries that may be on the brink of crisis Ã¢â‚¬” its database contains potentially market-moving information. It also includes communications with national leaders as they negotiate, often behind the scenes, on the terms of international bailouts. Those agreements are, in the words of one fund official, Ã¢â‚¬Å“political dynamite in many countries.Ã¢â‚¬ It was unclear what information the attackers were able to access.”
In its recently published Global Risks Report 2011, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified cyber-security as one of the top five risks to watch.
Businesses face a potentially enormous liability when a data breach occurs. An article by Rodd Zolkos atÃ‚ Business Insurance notes that increasing legislation and regulation at the Federal and state levels related to data breaches is contributing to higher success ratesÃ‚ for cyber plaintiffs in court andÃ‚ rising potentialÃ‚ costs for companies.
Specialized cyber risk insurance is critical to protect businesses from the growingÃ‚ threat of cyber attacks, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
Check outÃ‚ furtherÃ‚ I.I.I. facts and stats onÃ‚ identity theft.