January 22, 2021 | The Hill

The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it

January 22, 2021 | The Hill

The next pandemic may be cyber — How Biden administration can stop it

Excerpt

The next seismic event we face as a country may be a cyber pandemic. Funded by a foreign government, led by a terror organization, or carried out by a lone wolf with a laptop and a bit of skill, a major cyber event would spread faster and further than a biological virus, with potentially an equal or greater impact on our economy and way of life.

Imagine a widespread attack on our electrical grid that engulfs an entire region of the country: cell phones become useless, gas stations are out of order, restaurants and grocery stores close, air travel is grounded, supply chains are disrupted, financial systems shut down, and e-commerce comes to a standstill. Or, equally as disastrous, hackers could attack our water utilities, causing serious health consequences and public panic.

We’ve seen smaller iterations of this play out in recent months with a surge of cyberattacks. Hospitals in California, New York, and Oregon had their computer systems held for ransom, freezing medical records and delaying lifesaving care. Hackers breached local government offices in Louisiana, forcing the state to call in the National Guard for help. At least 16 school districts in a half-dozen states had their networks hit, causing delayed reopening or canceled classes.

Jamil Farshchi is the Chief Information Security Officer of Equifax. Samantha F. Ravich, Ph.D., serves as a Chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation and is a Commissioner of the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission. She previously served as Deputy National Security Advisor.

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Issues:

Cyber Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare