Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano gave her farewell speech last week. She had quite a bit to say, but there was one thing that caught my attention: She warned that a major cyberattack is on the way.
I believe it. Most major U.S. companies have been under siege from hackers over the last 18 months.
In fact, two days after Napolitano's speech, a hacker group called the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the New York Times' website and Twitter feed — for the second time this year.
Of course, Napolitano wasn't just talking about American business. She was talking about America's infrastructure: power grid, communications, banking and so forth.
Every one of these services relies on computers. A well-placed virus could do a lot of damage, especially if an insider planted it.
The Northeast blackout of 2003 started at a single power center. A computer bug disabled an important alarm. The operators couldn't react in time to a downed power line and it blacked out 55 million people for several days.
Imagine waking up one morning with no power. Cellphones can't connect, banks are closed, the Internet is down and credit cards don't work.
In localized emergencies, workers from other areas help to restore services quickly. A cyberattack could affect wide regions of the country, overwhelming the available manpower.
It could take days, weeks or months for basic services to be fully restored. Not a pretty picture.
Now, a cyberattack might not take down everything, but it could make basic services unreliable. You won't be able to trust technology to always work. Further Information
Hass and Associates: How prepared are you for a cyberattack?