Hackers Moving on to Attack Government Sites
In the last few years, hackers and data breaches have moved on from attacking individuals and small companies. However, they have moved on to bigger targets, attacking government websites on the local, state, and federal law enforcement level. General Keith Alexander of the National Security Agency has already warned that hackers will soon be able to get into the power grid and control electricity across the entire country. Is that really the direction we are heading towards? We need to be vigilant and do everything to protect ourselves.
In the state of Arizona, hackers and other cyber criminals attack the computer networks and systems maintained by the state government more than 10,000 times per day. This news comes from a counter terrorism expert who released this statement to the news.
“You can hack any site from anywhere in the world,” said Capt. Steve Harrison of the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center. Harrison said that he believes that the threat to individuals, corporations, and governments is continuing to grow as technology becomes more and more advanced and more people are learning to hack.
Over the past two years, hackers have been able to compromise the computer systems of states twice. It is very fortunate in these two cases that no valuable information was stolen and used to attack others. Rather, these hackings were done with political motives to make a statement against a particular political organization or faction. Neither breach was caused by traditional “hacking,” which involves breaking through a computer system’s protective “firewall.” Also, in both of these cases, there were some very careless security measures in place.
“We thought we had a good system in place. It just wasn’t being used,” said Harrison.
In general, hackers target computer systems for one of three reasons. They are motivated by money and hope to sell the information they steal. They are motivated by politics and want to make a statement with the information they steal. Or, they’re curious computer users who enjoy the challenge involved in hacking.
“That was the main thrill of it, was learning information that you weren’t supposed to know,” said one former hacker, whose identity CBS 5 News agreed to conceal. He said his group of friends never made money or political statements, but enjoyed the challenge.
Government officials say the growing concern is that hackers will turn their attention toward targets that could cause major disruptions in communities. Wreaking havoc on public utilities, such as power and water companies, could affect thousands of residents.
“There’s any number of things they can disrupt,” said Harrison.
Even former hackers like the one who spoke to CBS 5 News say the potential for widespread trouble is enormous.
“You know, you shut off a couple of thousand people’s air conditioning in Phoenix during the summer and a couple of those people are going to die,” said the former hacker.
Aside from the two security breaches that struck Arizona’s Department of Public Safety and Arizona State University in the past two years, there have been no successful hacking incidents to strike state computers, but it’s not for a lack of effort on the hackers’ part.
“The firewalls will get hits, at least for the state system, where it appears someone is trying to get into the system, in the tens of thousands of times on a daily basis,” said Harrison.