It's the next war: Protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from cyber attack

Experts worry about high-stakes risks

In the age of cyber warfare, security takes on new meaning. You may worry about your email or credit cards getting hacked. But government computer security experts warn of a different, and potentially much more dangerous risk – a cyber attack on the nation’s critical infrastructure. That means power plants, oil pipelines, drinking water supplies, major ports of commerce -- anything that American communities rely on to keep society running smoothly.

This critical infrastructure is increasingly operated by computers and special software called Industrial Control Systems. That means greater efficiency and much more convenience for many people. Advances in the so called “smart electricity grid” alone could save money and fossil fuels, as well as send more power to the parts of the grid that need it when they need it.

But those sophisticated Industrial Control Systems are exactly what make the United State more vulnerable, say auditors at the Government Accountability Office.

Cyber security experts are increasingly focused on the computers that control our critical infrastructure. Consultant Perry Pederson told DecodeDC, “Our concentration is trying to prevent bad things from happening. Not just loss of operation, but loss of life.”

In DecodeDC’s podcast Episode 41: Critical Infrastructure and The Next War, host Andrea Seabrook discusses the reality of our nation’s cyber security, and what could be among the biggest vulnerabilities.

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