Do you remember when Y2K came along, and everyone was counting down the New Year's, half expecting all the lights to go out and the power to go off, and utter chaos to ensue throughout our society and civilization? As you know, nothing happened, but in the back of everyone's mind, it was as if they were wondering if the catastrophic failure of our infrastructure and all of our computer networks which run everything would actually collapse. Okay so, let's talk about this for second.
There was an interesting article in Government Executive on January 23, 2012 titled; "Hackers manipulated railway computers, TSA memo says," by Aliya Sternstein.
The article stated; "Hackers, possibly from abroad, executed a targeted attack on a Northwest rail company's computers that disrupted railway signals for two days in December, according to a government memo recapping outreach with the transportation sector during the emergency."
Ouch! Now that's scary indeed, if hackers are able to get into our rail system they could cause trains to derail, collide with one another, and create terrible accidents. As you know chemicals, gases, and other things which are very detrimental for the environment are moved by train. If our rail infrastructure stops, so does the supply line, and whereas there are other distribution and transportation methods, they would be stressed to the maximum, and we'd soon see shortages on the shelves.
Worse, we also know that there are passenger trains, and we are busy trying to figure out how to build high-speed rail throughout our country. It gets rather serious when you have a train moving at over 150 miles an hour, and someone hacks the system, if that's not an action drama genre ready for the big screen, I don't know what would be. Does this mean that all of our new government mandated high-speed rail projects must also come with a cyber defense system? If so, that will raise the cost of such projects to even a greater extent - not to mention insurance - thus, ticket prices too.
We are already worried about the return on investment of public funding for such projects, and this will just add more cost, and vulnerability. That will cause riders to not wish to partake or use high-speed rail because they do not trust it. Without that trust and the ridership, the economies of scale cannot work, and let's not forget government projects like this such as Amtrak have never really made any money anyway.
It appears as if there is a cold war going on behind the scenes between governments and hacker networks. Unfortunately for our infrastructure, and the various targets of cyber hacking, it looks as if the hackers are winning. And whereas corporations, governments, and the military have thousands of hacking attempts per day, with very few ever getting in, the reality is that some are getting through. That's a scary thought if you are going down the track in 150 miles per hour in a high-speed train with your family. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.
Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Internet Security. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net/