The Homeland Security Department's Control System Security Program facilities in Idaho Falls, Idaho, are intended to protect the nation's power grid, water and communications systems. U.S. security officials and members of Congress are convinced a new law may be needed to promote improved cyberdefenses at critical facilities.
Consider what Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans, and you get an idea of the consequences of a cyberattack on critical U.S. infrastructure: No electricity. No water. No transportation. Terrorists or enemy adversaries with computer skills could conceivably take down a power grid, a nuclear station, a water treatment center or a chemical manufacturing plant.
A sweeping transportation bill being debated in Congress addresses how to prop up dwindling funds for the nation's aging highways. States with their own budget shortfalls are facing the same challenge. In California, researchers are trying to stretch those resources by developing next-generation pavements that are quieter and more fuel-efficient to drive on.
“Critical infrastructure” once referred to things like roads, bridges and power plants. But today, the term includes the unseen digital networks that control our visible world. An easy way to protect this infrastructure from hackers is to simply keep it disconnected from the internet, but it turns out many of those systems indeed are connected to the web, unbeknownst to the people that operate them. Joining me to talk about this is Kim Zetter, senior writer for Wired.
The state commissioner of transportation warns that if the federal government moves ahead with a plan to cut $40 million of New Hampshire’s yearly highway funds—the completion of I-93 will be placed on hold, indefinitely. One portion that remains unfinished is exit 3 near Windham.
Many businesses there say the uncertainty of I-93’s future is hurting the local economy.