At a recent hearing before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline made an admission which illustrates quite well our negligence and improvidence. The company paid out nearly $5 million in blackmail money to an unknown hacker when the pipeline was shut down for several days. That, of course, was bad enough, and most of the man’s testimony had to do with the technicalities of which government agency was notified and when, and what the company’s computer experts did to remedy the situation.
But there was another piece of his testimony, one that you had to look hard to find in the news reports. He testified that most of the men who could operate the controls on the pipeline have died or retired, so that the 5,500-mile line must rely almost wholly upon computerized systems for its operation. That means, of course, that we are vulnerable to attacks by people who do not have to take a guard at gunpoint, or dig a big hole somewhere that no one will notice.Read More