The Business Times

Beware, Cybergeddon is nigh

Published Thu, Dec 10, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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WHEN it comes to cyberwar and cyberterrorism, we need to think the unthinkable, says veteran TV journalist Ted Koppel. His unthinkable is this: Someone hacks into the nation's electric power grid and causes large parts of it to crash for a prolonged period.

Anyone who has endured a blackout from a storm or mechanical breakdown knows how frustrating and infuriating it can be. You lose your lights, refrigeration, communications and sense of control. But two certitudes limit the anger and anxiety: first, outages are usually small geographically; and second, we know that power will be restored in days or weeks.

Not so with a cyberattack, which aims to cripple the system and cause chaos. Lengthy disruptions may be widespread. Then the effects become horrific, as Mr Koppel writes in his new book Lights Out. Darkness descends on cities and suburbs. As refrigeration fades, food inventories are exhausted. Resupply is difficult, because - among other reasons - "gas stations without back-up generators are unable to operate their pumps". Water supplies are also paralysed by inert pumps. "There is little running water . . . toilets no longer flush." Routine payments, being mostly electronic transfers, are virtually impossible. People feel increasingly isolated and vulnerable. The Internet, whatever its advantages, has become a potential "weapon of mass destruction", Mr Koppel argues.…

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