An expert on digital risk and cyber security has warned that some of the UK’s most important critical infrastructure suppliers aren’t taking hacking threats seriously enough.
David Willacy, a manager for National Grid, made the comments during Westminster Briefing’s Cyber Security Summit in London last week (July 15th).
He said that energy companies need to “realise they are no longer just engineering companies, but … IT engineering companies”, Computer Weekly reports.
As power networks worldwide become more and more reliant on IT, the smallest vulnerability in their cyber defences could be sufficient for hackers to cause massive disruption, Mr Willacy continued.
“Computers can be manipulated in a way that can damage physical plant and hardware… It is therefore vital to all nations that their energy infrastructure is secure, resilient to threats and has the ability to recover from any incidents,” he said.
The National Grid expert also cited a recent experiment in which cyber security researchers set up an online “honeypot” in the guise of a water supplier.
Within 28 days, the fake company had been attacked 39 times, with the hackers trying to destroy key data and take systems offline rather than steal it.
Mr Willacy’s comments come shortly after a report from Lloyd’s of London and Cambridge University warned that a cyber attack on the US power grid could cost the country’s economy as much as $1 trillion (£640 billion).
Moreover, it emerged in April that almost half (44 per cent) of critical infrastructure suppliers in North and South America have already been the targets of data destruction cyber attacks, according to a Trend Micro and Organization of American States study.
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