The following is an excerpt from Priya Anand | January 9, 2016 | MarketWatch.com |
During a 2014 cybersecurity drill, New York City officials held with intelligence agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation posed several scenarios. What if the city noticed that the 911 system had shut down? What if criminals attempted to coordinate a computer attack on emergency infrastructure with a physical attack?
The city often had the same response: They’d call the FBI. Unfortunately, they were told, that might not help. “That’s not what we do,” Leo Taddeo, former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s cyber and special operations division in New York, said he told them. “We don’t come and fix your computers.”
Security breaches at the federal government or large corporate levels tend to attract the most media attention, but cities, counties and states across the U.S. also grapple with questions of how to secure sprawling networks, which connect agencies with vastly different purposes, sizes and budgets, against cybercriminals.
They’re hoping to avoid situations akin to the 2003 blackout in the Northeast, when power failures left several states and New York City dark for hours or longer. While that blackout was caused by a power surge, security and IT experts fear that criminals have the capability — and local governments have the vulnerabilities — to launch attacks of similar scope, hampering their ability to provide public safety, transportation and other key services and creating wide-ranging ripple effects.
“If someone wanted to impact the banking center, you wouldn’t have to necessarily hack a bank or affect them,” said Taddeo, who is now chief security officer at security software company Cryptzone. “You could turn off the subways, and if the people couldn’t get to work, the bank wouldn’t open.”
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