Are cyber attacks really as scary as they sound?


A joint report was recently released by the FBI and DHS (Department of Homeland Security), highlighting that a US nuclear power plant was indeed hacked. Both manufacturing and energy industries are warned that they need to strengthen security levels; and that threat is real. However, the media has taken things too far, issuing news reports with exaggerated headlines like “hackers are after the US nukes”.

Cyber attacks - fiction or not?

What happens all over the internet has given people a good reason to doubt that there’s something that can be done to prevent cyber attacks. Even though they are real, and they do happen to some of the world’s top-secured government websites, the media doesn’t emphasize truth. Instead, they are focused on alarming the population with the sole reason to make more money.

When the US nuclear power plant got hacked, both the FBI and the DHS issued another report highlighting that there was no indication of a direct threat to the safety of the people. Regardless, average people were not 100% sure. Some of them were still concerned that the “nukes would lead to a third world war”. It’s natural to feel vulnerable when such a massive hack happens.

Over the years, lots of other government websites were attacked by cyber criminals, including the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; where hackers posted a disturbing message on Twitter threatening ISIS.

People deserve a more realistic approach toward cyber attacks

The general public deserve to be better informed. Most cyber attacks don’t get past basic firewalls; some attacks are spotted before they can do any harm. But the people have a specific image in their heads regarding these “virtual crimes”.

The scary aspect is that industry control systems are linked to physical components that are part of certain industrial operations. These systems often have responsibilities, such as opening/closing valves or flip switches. Simply put, any system linked to an internet connectivity may be hacked.

Industrial control systems may become vulnerable when linked to the internet

Linking an industrial control system - regardless of its nature - to the internet makes it vulnerable to a cyber attack. The concerning factor is that ICSs use old-fashioned technology that is not agile, meaning updating and protecting becomes challenging. The people are terrified because hacking into systems like traffic lights, elevators, railroads, and power plants is a lot easier than breaking highly-secured government websites.

The good news is that ICSs are not necessarily helpless. Some are linked to unbreakable physical systems. For example, for a hacker to actually “steal” nuclears, he would also need physical power, not just programming skills. In theory, the idea is scary. But it’s not that easy to put into practice.

A hacker’s goal when breaking into a system - money!

Most hackers break into systems with a sole purpose: to ask for ransom. They’re after information, and before the closing of the infamous Silk Road, they would steal and sell it on the dark web. They can’t do it anymore, fortunately. This means their only alternative is to negotiate with owners or government officials and ask for money in return for what they’ve managed to steal.

Whether we like or not, hacking will never stop. The good news is advanced technologies can now spot a threat before it creates a riot in the online environment. The key is to keep your systems updated and running efficiently. Companies are aware that hackers are lurking around, impatiently waiting for the next vulnerability to come up. The more you choose to invest in your company’s IT infrastructure and security, the better chances you have to prevent a cyber attack.

Bottom line is cyber attacks are a real thing. When they happen, they’re usually able to penetrate sensitive infrastructures that don’t bother to strengthen their online security. You shouldn’t allow fear to shape and define the way you respond to such threats.Regardless of your business - and whatever its level is - you should never underestimate the power of a cyber attack.  A clean web designing London infrastructure can help make things better. Why not take precautionary measures ahead of time rather than ask yourself “what if it never happens to me?”


September 5, 2017


Maxwell Donovan
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