Destructive Cyberattacks Target Critical Infrastructures in the Americas

Nearly 50 percent of the systems that keep society operating were attacked
April 14, 2015 Updated: April 14, 2015

Critical infrastructures are the systems that keep a country running. They’re the energy grids, the water supply, natural gas, and other areas needed to keep a functioning society and economy. In 2014, close to half of these systems in the Western hemisphere were hit by destructive cyberattacks.

Security company TrendMicro with the Organization of American States (OAS) released a new report that included 575 responses from all “major critical infrastructures in all countries in the Americas.”

It states that 44 percent of the respondents experienced destructive attacks on their networks, and 40 percent reported a system shutdown. The report adds, “Overall the majority of the organizations surveyed have experienced attempts to have their information stolen.”

More than half of the respondents said attackers tried to “manipulate equipment” through a cyberattack.

“Exploitations that can affect countries’ infrastructure are usually infiltrated by simple or sophisticated tools that can access mobile and other personal devices to infiltrate high-value sectors, such as transportation, energy, or financial systems,” said OAS assistant secretary general Albert Ramdin in the report.

Ramdin noted that 53 percent of respondents saw an increase of attacks on their computer systems in 2014, and 76 percent “stated that cyber attacks against infrastructure are getting more sophisticated.”

The problem may actually be worse than what the numbers stated. Many respondents were unable to verify whether or not they had been attacked.

“Respondents made clear that attacks targeting infrastructure are a clear and present danger as only a clear minority of responding members could say they hadn’t seen these kinds of attacks,” states the report.

“The trepidation around these threats is justified,” it states, “as research demonstrates that attacks on critical infrastructure have increased in both prevalence and sophistication and will continue to grow in the near future.”

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