In the News – This Week in Critical Infrastructure: Week of October 10, 2016

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This Week in Critical Infrastructure, we bring you articles discussing army concerns related to infrastructure vulnerabilities to cyber attacks during natural disasters, the performance of grid upgrades in Florida during Hurricane Matthew, cybersecurity risks facing airlines as flights become more networked, the physical resilience issues raised by bolt cutting in recent pipeline protests, and a recent Akamai study that identifies long-time security flaws in approximately two million internet-connected devices.

Army Official: U.S. Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks During Natural Disasters

Yasmin Tadjdeh, writing for National Defense blog, reports on recent concerns voiced by the commander of U.S. Army North on the potential for coordinated cyber attacks against the United States during a natural disaster event. In such a scenario, a malicious actor might be able to take advantage of the natural disaster as a diversion, avoiding detection while military resources are otherwise occupied with disaster response.

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Hurricane Matthew Tests Electric Grid’s New Storm-Resistant Technology [Subscription Required]

Rebecca Smith from The Wall Street Journal writes on the performance of recent upgrades to the electrical grid infrastructure in Florida as part of a decade-long program of investments in smart-grid and storm-hardening technologies. Early indications are that these upgrades substantially improved the resilience and recovery of electrical systems in coastal regions hit by Hurricane Matthew last week, reducing the number and duration of outages compared to similar past storms.

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As Airlines Digitize, They Are Confronted With Increased Cybersecurity Risks

Writing for Fast Company, Steve Melendez reports on warnings from cybersecurity experts on the dangers faced by airlines as greater numbers of networked devices are being connected to airplanes in flight. In combination with increased networking of air traffic control systems, the number of potential entry points for hackers is rapidly increasing in air travel, increasing the need for cybersecurity consideration in system design and development.

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Bolt Cutters Expose Vulnerability of North America’s Oil Pipeline Grid

Liz Hampton and Ethan Lou of Reuters write on the physical vulnerability of oil and gas pipelines in the United States as demonstrated by recent disruptions caused by climate activists. In recent efforts to protest pipeline construction, groups have used common bolt cutters to break through low-security fencing and manually close valves along pipelines connecting the U.S. and Canada.

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Akamai Finds Longtime Security Flaw in 2 Million Devices

Lily Hay Newman, writing for Wired, discusses new research from Akimai showing how hackers exploit vulnerabilities in millions of internet-connected consumer devices, such as television sets, routers, satellite equipment, and DVRs. The flaws most commonly found in these products result from a failure in protocols that were first identified over a decade ago, with attacks resulting in the creation of vast botnets that attackers can later use for large-scale strikes against targets.

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