What does it take to infiltrate the computer systems of the country’s power plants and water treatment systems? Apparently just a few bored teenagers. Says the Washington Post:
“Uncounted numbers of industrial control computers, the systems that automate such things as water plants and power grids, were linked in and in some cases they were wide open to exploitation by even moderately talented hackers.”
As a mere hobby the teen hackers in this article have burrowed their way into nearly 100 million devices, everything from iPhones, to wind turbines and webcams.
The Department of Homeland Security knows about the vulnerability, but nobody in Washington is eager to spend the money to fix the problem. Hardening our entire power grid and computer controlled infrastructure would be along term project for the construction industry, but like most of our infrastructure needs, won’t get done anytime soon if ever. And all of it is exposed to not only hackers, but terrorists, solar storms, industrial sabotage and other malicious acts.
Every contractor who’s ever cut a telecom line with a shovel or a bucket knows how steep the penalties are. Millions of dollars of fines a day for lost business. Imagine the damage if somebody intentionally want to take down a big system.