The WikiLeaks story has drawn a lot of attention to the vulnerability of countries and companies to cyber attacks and espionage. CNN recently published an article entitled ” WikiLeaks lists sites key to U.S. security – CNN.com“ which stated that WikiLeaks possessed a list of key resources and infrastructure which are vital to US national and economic security. It is frightening to think about a situation where a more malicious type of organization could have access to the plans, specifications and computer systems of our national infrastructure. My intent in writing about this situation is not to raise fears but to share that companies in the green, environmental and infrastructure industries are recruiting and training more people to protect our infrastructure from terrorism, natural disaster and cybersecurity issues.
Why You Should Care About WikiLeaks and Our Infrastructure
Our country is ‘in the process of moving to the “Smart” era where data from the energy, environmental, water, telecommunications and transportation infrastructure will be linked to vast networks of sensors, servers and data centers (Networked SCADA). These networks will feed information to a host of apps on SMART devices and computers in government offices, our homes, industrial/manufacturing complexes, utilities and other facilities. The media reported how the credit card companies sites were attacked. A group of “Hackivists” attacking any portion of these infrastructure related networks could pose serious danger to hundreds or even thousands of people. (see my article “What makes Smart Grid Cybersecurity A Green Job” or the movie “Live Free or Die Hard). The critical issues for the government, utilities and other infrastructure owners is recruiting and hiring competent professionals to handle these threats.
Infrastructure Industries that are expanding their Cyber Security
- Intelligent Transportation Systems(Transportation): Did you know that our traffic signals and traffic control systems in major cities like New York and Atlanta are on large computer networks? Since many governments still control these the systems, it is very important that they have the professionals in place to ensure their networks are safe. A major beach could lead to thousands of accidents and serious gridlock.
- Electrical Utilities: The electric utilities are deploying SMART meters which are part of large Wide Area Networks. Security experts have already detailed the amount of damage a hacker could do if they got into an energy related computer network. (See This CNN article). The federal government and the utility industry are working hard on security protocols but the major problem is find the people to fill the new jobs.
- Water/Wastewater Treatment Systems: Believe or not the water/sewer systems in your town are part of a high-tech system. Many water treatment facilities have computer networks which control all of their vital functions. Like the electrical industry, the water companies are deploying Smart Technology and they too are in need of more cyber security professionals. Water treatment plants have been hacked in the past and the impact of an attack could be a huge environmental disaster ( See Water Plant Hacked)
What You Should Do
If you have an information technology or computer programming background, consider becoming a cybersecurity professional who focuses on the infrastructure related industries. You will find that the opportunities will be strong for a long time.