Critical Infrastructure and Emerging Threats

Every day, new technologies are emerging that present a threat to our critical infrastructure. It’s crucial that we develop a defense strategy against these threats before they cause serious damage.

One of the biggest dangers comes from commercial drones. These small, unmanned aircraft have the potential to do a lot of damage if they’re used for malicious purposes. They can be used to fly over sensitive areas and collect information, or even to carry explosives and strike key targets.

Cyber crime is another major concern. This is when criminals use technology to steal money or data or to disrupt vital systems like electrical grids or oil & gas pipelines. The cost of cyber crime is estimated at $3 trillion annually, and it’s growing fast.

It’s clear that we need a defense strategy to protect critical infrastructure from the increasing number of emerging technology threats.

What is critical infrastructure and why is it important to protect it

Critical infrastructure is any physical or virtual resource that is essential to the functioning of a society or organization. Critical infrastructure can include anything from the electric grid and water supplies to financial networks and transportation systems.

It's important to protect critical infrastructure from cyber and physical attacks because an outage or breach could have a devastating effect on society or the organization. Whether an attacker wants to shut down the resource or steal information, they could cause massive amounts of damage.

Depending on what infrastructure is targeted, it can affect everyday life in society and cripple an organization's ability to stay operational.

Critical infrastructure can be vulnerable to attacks from anyone with the money, motive, and expertise. An attacker could be a terrorist organization, a nation-state, or a criminal group. They could be trying to cause havoc or achieve financial gain. Critical infrastructure is often interconnected, so an attack on one part of the system can have a ripple effect throughout the entire system.

There are a number of ways that critical infrastructure can be vulnerable to attack. One way is through the use of malware. Malware can be used to infect computers and control them remotely. The attacker can then use the computer to launch attacks on other systems or steal information.

Another way an attacker can infiltrate a system is through social engineering. They can try to trick employees, such as contractors or service providers, into disclosing information that could cause the system to be compromised. Another way is through physical access. For example, an attacker can be someone who works for a supplier of the organization and have legitimate access to the facility. An additional way is through Wi-Fi networks that are open or not secure, which can allow an attacker to gain access and control of a system.

Keeping up with evolving technologies and defending against possible attacks is crucial for critical infrastructure organizations because the infrastructure they're protecting may not be able to withstand multiple types of threats at once. A multi-layer defense strategy can mitigate the risk associated with emerging technological threats.

The dangers of commercially available drones

Commercial drones have become increasingly popular in recent years, but they also present a significant security threat. Drones are small, unmanned aircraft controlled by an onboard computer or by remote control. They can be programmed to fly autonomously from one place to another based on GPS coordinates. This makes them useful for collecting data from sensitive locations that could be difficult or dangerous for humans to access.

In addition, drones can carry payloads such as explosives, which could be used as a weapon to target key infrastructures like bridges and power stations.

It is important to have a defense strategy against commercial drones because an attack could cause severe damage that is significantly disproportionate to the low cost it takes for the malicious actor.

There have been a number of attacks on critical infrastructure in recent years that have involved small drones.

For example, in 2018, a group of activists from Greenpeace flew several drones over a French nuclear power plant and managed to get close enough to take photographs and videos, and even crashed one "superman shaped drone" into one of the plant's facilities. The activists said that they were protesting against the use of nuclear energy.

Also in 2018, an unauthorized drone flying near an airport in London caused the shutdown of one of the runways. This caused massive delays for passengers and cost the airport an estimated £1 million per day in lost revenue.

A drone was used to smuggle drugs and mobile phones into a prison in Texas later that same year. The success of this smuggling attempt shows that criminals are increasingly using drones to carry out their illicit activities.

A number of attacks have involved drones carrying explosives. One Saudi Aramco oil facility, Saudi Arabia’s national petroleum and natural gas company based in eastern Dhahran city, was attacked by explosive-laden drones on September 14, 2019. The second and third-order effects sent shocks through the global oil market.

Even though drones themselves are not particularly expensive, the damage they can cause gives their operators a massive strategic advantage over defenders because they can conduct operations from a very long range.

The fact that commercial drones are readily available and simple to use means that anyone – including terrorists – could use them as weapons. As drone technology continues to advance, it's becoming harder for organizations to defend themselves against them.

It is important for all types of organizations – both national and private – to have strategies in place for defending themselves against emerging technological threats like commercial drones.

Read more about the evolution of small drone technology.

The cost of cyber crime and the damage it can cause

There have been several attacks on critical infrastructure in recent years that demonstrate the need for better protection. In December 2015, hackers attacked the Ukrainian electrical grid, causing a blackout that affected more than 225,000 people. This was the first known attack on a power grid using malware.

The cost of cyber crime is estimated at $3 trillion annually. This cost is the result of the damage that cybercrime can cause to businesses and organizations. The cost can be divided into two categories: direct and indirect costs.

The direct costs are those that are easy to measure, such as the money that is lost as a result of a data breach or the money spent on security solutions. The indirect costs are harder to quantify, but they can be just as damaging. These costs include things like the loss of business opportunities, the time spent dealing with a data breach, and the damage to a company's reputation.

The 2021 ransomware attack against Colonial Pipeline was a cyber attack carried out by a group of hackers called DarkSide. This caused the company to lose control of its systems, and it was forced to shut down its pipelines temporarily. The attack caused significant damage to Colonial Pipeline and cost the company millions of dollars. It also disrupted the supply of gasoline and diesel fuel in the United States and Canada, and raised concerns about the security of the global oil supply. The attack was one of the most serious cyber attacks in history, and it highlighted the need for better security measures to protect critical infrastructure from both cyber and physical threats.

Cyber crime can have a devastating effect on businesses and organizations, especially those that are part of a nation's critical infrastructure. Cyber criminals not only want to steal money and data, but they also want to cause as much damage as possible. Governments need a defense strategy against cyber crime because it can harm organizations without the resources of a big corporation.

How to develop a defense strategy against emerging technology threats to critical infrastructure

It's important for governments and businesses alike to develop a defense strategy against emerging technology threats because these threats can cause massive damage to critical infrastructure. Some of the ways that entities can defend against these threats include using sensors to detect drones, using anti-drone technology, and having policies in place. Businesses and other private organizations can also develop a defense strategy against these threats by training employees, installing sensors, and improving cyber and physical security defense systems.

Governments can do their part in defending critical infrastructure by developing policies. One way governments can improve cyber security is by requiring agencies receiving government funding to meet certain standards for things like the protection of personally identifiable information, encryption, and multi-factor authentication. Government agencies should also take advantage of bug bounty programs to improve their cybersecurity in a cost-effective way.

The need for a defense strategy against emerging technology threats is crucial because these threats can cause massive damage to critical infrastructure while putting the security of nations at risk.

By focusing on areas like sensors, anti-drone technology, and policy development, organizations and governments alike can improve their defenses and mitigate the risks associated with new technologies.

Critical infrastructure security is a growing concern for governments and businesses globally and the need for a comprehensive defense strategy against emerging technological threats is becoming more and more evident. With the advent of commercial drone threats, cyber crime costing $3 trillion annually, and new technologies that are becoming increasingly complex, it's crucial to keep up with these developments before they get out of hand. Governments and businesses should take advantage of various strategies like sensors, anti-drone technology, and policy development to keep up with these emerging threats.

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