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Not Your Ordinary Blackout

Reports are surfacing that hackers have the ability to attack the control systems of critical infrastructure, potentially putting us all at risk.

Last December, a power outage in the Ukraine left people in more than 100 cities without electricity. Darkness is indeed scary, but more concerning is the reason behind the blackout: A preliminary investigation by the Ukrainian government and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security determined that hackers were responsible for taking the power grid offline.

Meanwhile, back in the states, reports are now surfacing that, in 2013, Iranian hackers gained access to the control system of the Bowman Avenue dam in Rye, N.Y. According the Wall Street Journal the still classified incident was a wake-up call for U.S. officials, as it demonstrated that Iran had greater digital-warfare capability than was initially believed.

And, they are not the only ones who are capable of doing digital damage. TIME magazine reported that the U.S. federal government suffered 61,000 cybersecurity breaches in 2014. In 2013, the FBI had to notify more than 3,000 U.S. companies that they were victims of cyber break-ins. And, also in 2013, two former Pentagon officials said that, “Chinese computer spies raided the databanks of almost every major U.S. defense contractor and made off with some of the country’s most closely guarded technological secrets.”

Although the Bowman dam is a small structure used for flood control, the breach serves as a warning that any part of our critical infrastructure could be in trouble. After all, since we are connecting industrial control systems to the Internet and making everything so “smart,” our power grids, pipelines, bridges and dams are open, exposed and very vulnerable.

Scary stuff.

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