McAfee, one of the worlds leading technology security companies, recently carried out a report on the attack-state of critical infrastructure systems, such as gas, power and water and found surprising results. The firm sent a survey to 200 IT departments, representing utility companies in fourteen countries around the globe, and found that eight out of ten claimed their systems had been attacked within the previous twelve months - a 40 percent rise in just two years.
One of most high profile cyber attacks on an industrial system was the 2010 Stuxnet worm which was targeted at Iran, speculated to originate from the United States and Israel. Luckily there was no damage caused however, considering its was target a nuclear power station. It was claimed that the intention of the application was to "circumvent digital data systems, so the human operator could not get there fast enough."
There is not much a surprise about where the fingers are being pointed by McAfee with China being the firms top suspect followed closely by Russia and the United States. The majority of attacks were Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks which flood computers with too much data causing the targeted machine(s) to become overwhelmed.
A US National Security Advisor to the Bush Administration, Stewart Baker, said "we asked what what the likelihood was of a major attack that causes significant outage, that is one that causes severe loss of services for at least 24 hours, loss of life or personal injury or failure of a company," and then claimed that "three quarters thought it would happen within the next two years."
Image Credit: Centrica