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If a hacker is capable of breaking in to our computer systems, with a little more effort surely they could disrupt larger targets as well. The American government believes that there is a growing threat of a cyber attack against critical infrastructures, such as the U.S. natural gas infrastructure.
American Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, mentioned that the utility sector is a central one in dealing with cyber threats, and recently there are growing concerns of attacks against natural gas compressor stations. These stations are in charge of transferring the natural gas via pipes to commercial, private and municipal consumers. Disrupting these stations with a cyber attack could damage the security of the process of transferring gas to consumers and even cause delays for industries relying on it.
It should be mentioned that the United States’ electric grid is also becoming more dependent on natural gas and even city buses are fueled with it. There are also many private consumers relying on natural gas to warm their homes. The loss of heating capabilities will immediately harm vulnerable populations such as the elderly, with possibly deadly results. In fact, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published a report as early as 2013, which mentioned the first attempts to cyber attack these stations in the Midwest states.
Lately cyber security companies have reported growing threats of cyber attacks on cars and gas stations. New cars and trucks which have digital hardware are more vulnerable to attacks. According to Moniz, the Department of Energy is trying to keep up with the increasing amount of threats and is working alongside industrial bodies in order to increase cooperation in this issue.
Here in Israel, preparations for a guided missile attack on critical infrastructure are nothing new. There have been several attempts by terrorists to spy on such facilities. One example is the arrest of Nassim Musa Nasser in 2002, who was asked by Hezbollah for maps showing the locations of gas and electric facilities in the city of Tel Aviv. But now, it seems, geographic coordinates are no longer required in order to attack such facilities. Rather, it takes a computer mastermind to shut down power from the inside. Technology and Hi-Tec experts in Israel are no doubt working tirelessly to defend against such possibility as well.