Cyberterrorists Targeting Healthcare Systems, Critical Infrastructure

Terror attacks have traditionally targeted concentrations of bystanders. But what if they didn’t need to in order to wreak havoc on a massive scale?

Cyberterrorists Targeting Healthcare Systems, Critical Infrastructure
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Critical infrastructure networks maintained by governments around the world could be vulnerable to major cyberattacks at any moment.

But what do we really know about cyber terrorism?

Luke Dembosky, former deputy assistant attorney-general for national security at the US Department of Justice, tracks developments in cyber terror.

He said the question had shifted from how to prevent major attacks point black, to how best to minimise their enormous damage.

What is cyberterrorism?

The FBI in the United States defines cyberterrorism as a “premeditated, politically motivated attack against information, computer systems, computer programs and data which results in violence againstnon-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents”.

Critically, cyberterrorist attacks are not the same as hacking or compromising consumer data, as what happened in the recent Equifax data breach.

They instead aim to cause global panic or mass loss of life by hacking into critical infrastructure like power networks, trading platforms and healthcare systems.

As we saw with the WannaCry ransomware attack earlier this year, many hospital systems were vulnerable to widespread disruption.

“This is not the same as the loss of your credit card data in a breach even as large as the Target breach that we had a few years ago in the US,” Mr Dembosky said.

“This is about life and death, and when it comes to providing medical care or not, or being able to access patient records, keeping the power grid on, the trading platform going, it becomes a much larger risk area.”

Is a cyberterrorist attack inevitable?

Major economies and governments around the world are currently in a race to “lock down” critical infrastructure from destructive cyber attacks.

Nations are faced with the near unavoidability of such attacks, and instead trying to find ways to minimise their spread or “cascading effect”across an entire sector of the economy.

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