There have been many recent reports of cyber attacks against critical U.S. infrastructure. Wikipedia (http://ow.ly/lp8yl) says critical infrastructure describes assets essential to the functioning of a society and economy. These include:
electricity generation, transmission and distribution;
gas production, transport and distribution;
oil and oil products production, transport and distribution;
water supply (pipelines, dams)
agriculture, food production and distribution;
heating (e.g. natural gas, fuel oil, district heating);
public health (hospitals, ambulances);
transportation systems (railways, airports, harbors, highways);
financial services (banking, clearing);
security services (police, military).
One of the most recent reports of these attacks appeared in the Wall Street Journal (http://ow.ly/lo8O2). That report starts off by saying “Iranian-backed hackers have escalated a campaign of cyber assaults against U.S. corporations by launching infiltration and surveillance missions against the computer networks running energy companies, according to current and former U.S. officials.”
The article goes on to say “The latest campaign, which the U.S. believes has direct backing from the Iranian government, has focused on the control systems that run oil and gas companies and, more recently, power companies, current and former officials said.”
In a new book The New Digital Age on the future of communications and the internet, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen warned of the potential for “perpetual, permanent low-grade cyber war” in the near future, equal in tension to the Cold War but involving both superpowers and smaller countries.
In the book, Schmidt and Cohen say “Today, only a small number of states have the capacity to launch large-scale cyber attacks – the lack of fast networks and technical talent holds others back – but in the future there will be dozens more participating, either offensively of defensively.”
“Blocks of states that are gaining connectivity and technical capacity today, in Latin America, South-East Asia and the Middle East, will begin launching their own cyber attacks soon, if only to test the waters.
“Even those who lack these indigenous technical skills . . . will find ways to get the tools they need.”
State-backed data spies hunt industrial secrets – BBC News - http://ow.ly/kkJVd
The White House: Cyber attacks against critical infrastructure are way up – ForeignPolicy.com http://ow.ly/lo8Kf
U.S. energy companies victims of potentially destructive cyber intrusions – ForeignPolicy.com – http://ow.ly/lo8Fy
The Real Story of Stuxnet – IEEE Spectrum – http://ow.ly/lp9WB