February 12, 2013

Cyber Attacks a Growing Threat, Congressman Says


A recent rash of cyber security attacks has drawn the attention of Congress, Pat Meehan, R-PA, writes in The Mercury. The attacks have been focused on U.S. bank accounts.

Izz ad-Din al-Qassam is connected to the attacks; the group is connected to and working with the Iranian government. Citigroup, PNC and Capital One, among others, have all been affected by the attacks, either by service disruption or by shutting down the sites.

U.S. security officials have predicted that Iran has been growing more capable of cyber attacks such as these. In April 2012 Frank Cilluffo, director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University said “there is little, if any, reason to think that Iran would hesitate to engage proxies to conduct cyber strikes against perceived adversaries.”

Online attacks can have larger targets than just personal bank accounts. Air-traffic and rail control systems, the power grid, water systems, power plants, wireless networks and defense networks are all potential targets. While taking down online banking functionality only causes an inconvenience, infrastructure attacks can cause blackouts, damn failures, communication failures and an inability to mobilize defense. Anything that is controlled by a computer and is connected to another computer is at some level of risk from cyber attacks.

In the summer of 2012, two large companies in the Middle East had important business information wiped from databases and tens of thousands of computers destroyed in an attack. In much the same way business data can be erased, bank account balances can be erased, as the information is now saved on computers; as more records are digitized, more personal information is subject to theft and unwanted deletion. The subcommittee on cybersecurity, infrastructure and protection as well as security technologies will be creating a plan to prevent such attacks on Americans.




Edited by Rachel Ramsey



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