In 2011, Stuxnet, a malicious computer worm, was released on Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first time a computer worm was able to interfere with programmable logic controllers (PLCs), and, in fact, destroy them. These controllers have many applications, including factory assembly lines, amusement parks and centrifuges. PLCs are prized for their ruggedness and reliability. But they were no match for a computer worm. Eddie Walsh, President of the Emerging Science and Technology Policy Centre, wrote in 2011, “… any state with a civilian cyber infrastructure faces a clear and present threat to its critical infrastructure.”
It’s no wonder that the National Security Administration has ramped up its recruiting and retention efforts to make sure we can defend ourselves against countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea that are aggressively building their cyber capabilities. Private companies are doing the same.
If you did a double take because I mentioned North Korea and cyber capabilities in the same sentence, let me provide some context. Although, as you can see in this satellite photo, North Korea does not generate enough electricity to power its own grid, this rogue nation is intent on jamming electronic signals that are critical to U.S. and South Korean guided weapons. Just last month, a report on cyber vulnerabilities by the Defense Science Board warned that North Korea might acquire the cyber capability to cripple the American power grid, and cautioned that it could never be allowed to “hold vital U.S. strike systems at risk.”
President Trump recently cited cyber security as one of his priorities for increased defense spending. It’s clear that any successful defense against these significant cyber threats will require robust public-private cooperation. Watch for strategic acquisitions to skyrocket over the next 12 to 24 months. For smaller cyber-security companies, this is truly a unique window to get to market and receive maximum value.
2011: The year of domestic cyber threat
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Trump inherits a secret cyberwar against North Korean missiles
North Korea at night
Ryan Duschak | Vice President