Critical National Infrastructure must be secured – or we will all suffer the consequences

June 25, 2021

In 1965, New York City and much of the northeastern United States suffered a massive blackout which brought the entire city to a halt. Memorably cited in the 1970s BBC series Connections, it served as a perfect example of how interconnected modern life had become. A circuit breaker flipped, as intended to prevent a large-scale electrical maelstrom, but the unintended consequence was that the power grid was effectively taken offline over several hours. Transport stopped at rush hour, hospitals had to use candles instead of lights and everyday people were left essentially ineffective until the power came back on.

If modern life was that interconnected in 1965, imagine what it’s like now. Power grids and other Critical National Infrastructure are more advanced and more digitally connected than ever – which also means that it’s inherently more insecure.

That’s why every organization involved in providing essential services, from councils to hospitals to transport operators to power and water grids, must prioritise cybersecurity to maintain the efficacy and safety of their offerings.

A recent report by Bridewell Consulting found that 86% of UK Critical National Infrastructure operators were subject to cyberattacks in the past year. Even more worryingly, over 20% of these attacks succeeded. This is a trend that is simply unsustainable, especially as Smart Cities gain traction and capability.

Luckily, there are several mitigation actions that can be taken as Smart and IoT technology develops. A majority of these operators still rely on older Operational Technology (OT), which should either be updated or protected using a cybersecurity solution like ANGOKA’s, which is retrofittable into existing technology. And, as operators begin to switch to 5G (which, while not without some cyber concerns, is more secure than 3G and 4G), they will be able to take advantage of the network’s lower latency and bandwidth.

We’re connected now more than ever before – let’s ensure that our most essential services are protected.

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