Vulnerabilities / Threats
1/28/2010
02:10 PM
Connect Directly
LinkedIn
Twitter
Google+
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Critical Infrastructure Vulnerable To Attack

A report finds widespread concern among IT security executives about cyber threats to industry networks.

Executives at corporate operators of critical infrastructure -- power, water, oil, telecom, finance, and transportation companies -- say that their networks face relentless attacks from cybercriminals and foreign governments, a situation that amounts to an undeclared cyberwar.

On Thursday, McAfee, a security vendor, published a cyber security report authored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a public policy research group.

The report, "In the Crossfire: Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyberwar," is based on interviews with six hundred IT and security executives at critical infrastructure enterprises in seven industrial sectors from 14 different countries. It finds widespread worry about cybersecurity preparedness and predicts the situation will get worse.

Conducted by U.K. market research firm Vanson Bourne, Ltd., the survey suggests that cyber attacks, such as the one from China that Google recently reported, happen frequently to companies across a broad range of industries.

"More than half of the executives surveyed (54%) said they had experienced 'Large-scale denial of service attacks by high level adversary like organized crime, terrorists or nation-state (e.g. like in Estonia and Georgia),'" the report states. "The same proportion said they had been subject to 'stealthy infiltration' of their network by such a high-level adversary 'e.g. like GhostNet' -- a large-scale spy ring featuring individualized malware attacks that enabled hackers to infiltrate, control, and download large amounts of data from computer networks belonging to non-profits, government departments and international organizations in dozens of countries."

In an interview with InformationWeek, Stewart Baker, a distinguished visiting fellow at CSIS, former assistant secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, and an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson, said concern about cyber attacks is real and needs to be taken seriously.

"We asked people who ought to know about attacks on their infrastructure under an assurance of anonymity and what we found is that this is a very significant threat," he said. "It really is substantial."

Baker pointed to survey findings indicating that 20% of respondents reported extortion attempts. In the U.S., U.K., and Germany, only 10% said as much. But in India, 40% reported extortion.

Survey data suggests that the average cost of a major cyber attack -- one that results in at least 24 hours of system downtime -- ranges from about $6 million to over $8 million in the oil and gas sector.

Not everyone sees cyber attacks as a source of alarm. In a recent interview with Reuters regarding the cyber attack on Google, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, "We're attacked every day from all parts of the world and I think everybody else is too. We didn't see anything out of the ordinary."

-- Nick Hoover contributed to this article.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Cartoon
Current Issue
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2015-0714
Published: 2015-05-02
Multiple cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities in Cisco Finesse Server 10.0(1), 10.5(1), 10.6(1), and 11.0(1) allow remote attackers to inject arbitrary web script or HTML via unspecified parameters, aka Bug ID CSCut53595.

CVE-2014-3598
Published: 2015-05-01
The Jpeg2KImagePlugin plugin in Pillow before 2.5.3 allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service via a crafted image.

CVE-2014-8361
Published: 2015-05-01
The miniigd SOAP service in Realtek SDK allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via a crafted NewInternalClient request.

CVE-2015-0237
Published: 2015-05-01
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) Manager before 3.5.1 ignores the permission to deny snapshot creation during live storage migration between domains, which allows remote authenticated users to cause a denial of service (prevent host start) by creating a long snapshot chain.

CVE-2015-0257
Published: 2015-05-01
Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization (RHEV) Manager before 3.5.1 uses weak permissions on the directories shared by the ovirt-engine-dwhd service and a plugin during service startup, which allows local users to obtain sensitive information by reading files in the directory.

Dark Reading Radio
Archived Dark Reading Radio
Join security and risk expert John Pironti and Dark Reading Editor-in-Chief Tim Wilson for a live online discussion of the sea-changing shift in security strategy and the many ways it is affecting IT and business.