DNC Hack Parallels Critical Infrastructure Insecurity

Carl Weinschenk
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Top 5 Places Your Enterprise Data Is at Risk

The hack of the Democratic National Committee is not an attack on critical infrastructure. However, the audacity to try to monkey around with the American elections and the highly suspected involvement of the Russians raises it to nearly the same level of severity.

The Russians are an especially scary element. If it is true that they are willing to go big – and trying to influence an American election is big – it is safe to assume that they go after our critical infrastructure and other sensitive targets.

However, it’s a high stakes game that cuts both ways. About 20 critical infrastructure networks in Russia, including the Red Army, have been victimized by tailor-made malware, according to Computerworld. It seems a bit surprising that the Russian Federal Security Service made the announcement.

Where there are great vulnerabilities, there is government interest in finding solutions and entrepreneurial interesting in making money.

On the entrepreneurial side, Indegy, an Israeli company that protects critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, has raised $12 million in new support in a Series A funding round. The round was led by Vertex Ventures and included new investors Aspect Ventures and SBI Holdings. Two previous investors added $6 million, bringing the total to $18 million, according to Geektime.

Indegy monitors industrial control systems that run machines used in critical infrastructure. The goal is to uncover changes to how those systems are operating that may signal the presence of malware.

The government is also represented. GNC reported on one such critical systems defense project:

More specific tools could be on the way. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, for example, will soon kick off its Rapid Attack Detection, Isolation and Characterizations Systems (RADICS) program, which is aimed at developing automated systems that will help utilities restore power within seven days of a cyberattack. Part of that program is intended to produce tools that “can localize and characterize malicious software that has gained access to critical utility systems,” according to the broad agency announcement.

Unfortunately, the rest of the post is very depressing. Kaspersky Labs reports that threats are increasing – at least the number that is known – and are more sophisticated. These sorts of stories have been around for years, and their tenor doesn’t change. It seems that we have gotten to this point without a major cataclysm through pure luck.

Even though the DNC is not critical infrastructure, the hacking of the DNC computers, if it is for a moment assumed that the Russians are responsible, illustrates the stakes. It’s unclear what country or group is behind the hacks targeting the Russians. What is clear, however, is that it’s unlikely to reduce tensions.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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