Need of Strengthening Cyber Resilience of Civilian infrastructure

Synopsis: Cyber-attacks are increasing on civilian targets and infrastructure around the globe. Thus, there is a critical need to strengthen the Cyber resilience of civilian infrastructure.

  • Cyber, which is regarded as the fifth dimension of warfare, is now largely being employed against civilian targets.
  • For instance, several high-profile cyberattacks were reported from the United States during the past several months.
  • These attacks were all primarily on civilian targets that were of critical importance.
  • Hence, there is a need to defending civilian targets, and more so critical infrastructure, against cyberattacks such as ransomware, phishing, spear phishing, Zero-day software, etc.,

 Recent cyberattacks on Civilian infrastructure reported from the United States

  1. SolarWinds: It was believed to be sponsored by Russia. It involved data breaches across several wings of the U.S. government, including defence, energy, and state.
  2. Hafnium: Aggressive cyberattack, by a Chinese group. It exploited serious flaws in Microsoft’s software.
  3. DarkSide: Ransomware attack by Russia/East Europe-based cybercriminals. Attacked the Colonial Pipeline, the main supplier of oil to the U.S. East Coast, compelling the company to temporarily shut down operations.
  4. Nobellium: Russia-backed group. A phishing attack on 3,000 e-mail accounts, targeting USAID and several other organisations.

Possible motives behind Cyberattacks

Data has become the world’s most precious commodity and reportedly, we create more than three quintillion bytes of data every day.  With the growth in the digital world, attacks on data and data systems are bound to intensify for various following reasons,

  • One, for nation-states involved in Cyber-attacks, their primary aim is to transform the existing Geopolitical situation in their favor.
  • Two, for cybercriminals and for terror groups, the motive is to earn increased profits.
  • Three, some companies encounter ‘insider threats’  due to discontent with the management or for personal reasons.
Why the cyber resilience of Civilian infrastructure needs to be strengthened?

Nations around the globe are concentrating on cyber defences to protect military and strategic targets, whereas the priority to protect civilian infrastructure is being overlooked. This needs to be changed for the following reasons.

  • One, the use of ‘Zero-day software’ that earlier existed only for the military domain now exists outside the military domain too.
    • A zero-day attack (also referred to as Day Zero) is an attack that exploits a potentially serious software security weakness that the vendor or developer may be unaware of.
    • It has the capability to cripple a system and could lie undetected for a long time. The most infamous Zero-day software is Stuxnet. It almost crippled Iran’s uranium enrichment Programme.
  • Two, the distinction between military and civilian targets is increasingly getting erased. For instance, the 2012 cyberattack on Aramco, employing the Shamoon virus, had wiped out the memories of 30,000 computers of the Saudi Aramco Oil Corporation.
  • Three, cyberattacks on unconventional sectors have increased. For instance, Banking and financial services were most prone to ransomware attacks, but oil, electricity grids, and lately, health care, have begun to figure prominently.
  • Four, the number of cyberattacks on healthcare systems is increasing. Compromised ‘health information’ is proving to be a vital commodity for use by cybercriminals. The available data aggravates the risk not only to the individual but also to entire communities.
What needs to be done?

Already, Cyber professionals are now engaged in building a ‘Zero Trust-Based Environment’ by employing software-defined solutions.  However, much needed to be done

Read Also :-Cyber Attacks on critical Infrastructure

  • One needs to build deep technology in cyberspace. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, Machine learning, and quantum computing, presents new opportunities in this regard.
  • Two, officials in the public domain and company boards should carry out regular vulnerability assessments and create necessary awareness of the growing cyber threat.

Source:  The Hindu

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