Would a modern-day Guy Fawkes choose a cyber attack over a barrel of gunpowder?
Hidden in the virtual sewers
Writing for a UK national newspaper, Minister for cabinet – Ben Gummer, warned that the UK was under attack from organised criminal groups, hactivists, untrained teenagers and even foreign states.
Just as the perpetrators come in many forms so to do the attacks. From Ransomware distributed via emails, vast denial of service attacks – such as that experienced on the East coast of America at the end of October to elaborate cyber attacks that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond movie.
At the start of 2016, Lincolnshire County Council’s computer systems were hit by malware, causing the systems to be shut down and affecting many of its services – including its libraries and online booking systems. This week Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Trust were forced to shut down the IT systems again due to malware.
Other attacks are a little more elaborate. Who can forget the hack against the Ukrainian power grid that turned off the country’s lights and heating in December 2015. Rather than opportunistic, the hackers had carefully orchestrated the attack, performing detailed reconnaissance to plan and then perform the sophisticated assault.
Attacks against critical infrastructure could be at best disruptive and at worst result in hundreds of casualties to even loss of life. Hacks can cause economic damage and erode trust. For individuals it can be embarrassing or even financially crippling. And, as is playing out in America, it could even shape governments and win or lose an election.