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The use of high-speed computers, the internet, and other technological means is on the rise culminating to what is referred to as Cybercrime. Cybercrime refers to the criminal activities propagated by the use of the computer, the internet or other technological means. It has become a major threat to national security and other critical infrastructure such as water supply systems so much so that countries and security agencies are spending a lot in an attempt to find a solution to this Internet-based criminal activity. The purpose of this essay is to describe the effects cybercrime on Water/Wastewater Infrastructure and the prevention policies that can be applied.
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Water/Wastewater Infrastructure is one of the most critical infrastructures made up of hundreds of networks, conduits, and pipes which are fully reliant on one another for full functionality and to ensure smooth delivery of essential services to the public (Jasper, 2017).. It is for this reason that they are most vulnerable to attacks from malicious people and even terrorist groups. Cyber threats to water systems involve individuals corrupting or seizing control of information essential to system operations. The effects of such an attack are catastrophic in the sense that other infrastructure, such as transportation, communication, energy, and emergency services would be affected. Critical services such as firefighting and health care would be rendered helpless in the event of such an attack due to water contamination by the release of deadly agents (Jasper, 2017). A large number of causalities resulting from illnesses due to consumption of contaminated water will further make the health care situation dire. Agriculture and food sector would also be negatively impacted by lack of clean sufficient water.
There are U.S. cybercrime prevention policies designed to prevent this kind of incident which includes supervisory control to minimize access to secure areas of state of the art doors requiring biometric information (Jasper, 2017). Operating personnel in charge of SCADA networks containing critical computer applications are made aware of the vulnerabilities and therefore take appropriate measures to secure their SCADA networks. Cyber threats have a wide range of sophistication as hackers can access the water supply systems via modems or PCs and thus alleviate such threat, most water supply systems require personnel to use secure networks with updated firewalls and constantly change their passwords. In addition to this, the use of technological methods of encryption helps to secure sensitive information and purchasing of quality electronic devices with warranty from trusted manufacturers.
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Cyberattack on the water supply facility could have been prevented by designing a basis threat. A design basis threat (DBT) is an evaluation of the security systems to predetermine the possible loopholes and entry levels that hackers could use (USDHS, 2003). This would enable the officials to secure such areas and make it harder for hackers to access the water facility system networks. Formulation of strict policies would also help prevent cyberattack as authorized personnel are made aware of the repercussion of sharing vital passwords and information to third party members.
The use of newer forms of technology such as digitalizing sensitive information has its benefits but comes with certain amounts of risk. Water supply facilities are crucial, and hence a target by malicious people or even terrorist groups. It is, therefore, paramount that measures are put in place to prevent such attacks from happening since the effects can be catastrophic to communities, states, and other emergency service operations.
- Jasper, S. E. (2017). US Cyber Threat Intelligence Sharing Frameworks. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 30(1), 53-65.
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2003). Advisory: Potential AI Qaeda Threats to US Water Supply, June 23, 2003.