Study: Critical infrastructure attacks often result in physical damage

A new report from Intel Security has revealed that critical infrastructure cyber-attacks often result in physical damage, and could even result in a loss of human life in the future.

The “Holding the Line Against Cyber Threats: Critical Infrastructure Readiness Survey” was commissioned by The Aspen Institute and saw researchers interview 625 IT decision makers working across critical infrastructure in Europe and the US.

They found that 86 percent of executives were keen for greater public and private sector collaboration to protest these critical services, with 76 percent saying that a national defence force was needed so as to respond when an attack hit a critical national infrastructure company inside national borders.

Over four in five respondents (89 percent) said that they had experienced at least one attack on a system within their organisation, which they deemed secure, over the last three years, with 72 percent saying that the threat level of attacks was escalating.

Almost half of all respondents (48 percent) believe it is likely that attack on critical infrastructure, with the potential to result in the loss of human life, could happen within the next three years (64 percent said this had not happened yet due to their own good IT security). Half of all respondents said that attacks that had already happened resulted in physical damage.

“This data raises new and vital questions about how public and private interests can best join forces to mitigate and defend against cyber-attacks,” said Clark Kent Ervin, director of homeland security programme at Aspen Institute. “This issue must be addressed by policymakers and corporate leaders alike.”