The secret winner of the cyber security war

Image: The secret winner of the cyber security war

Most businesses have software to protect them from a cyber-attack, with back up data and hardware ensuring that hackers won’t be able to put the company at risk.

However, very few companies have protection against the real winner of the cyber security war…. The squirrel.

According to security expert, Cris Thomas, who has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013, squirrels are the main instigators for cyber outages.

His Cyber Squirrel 1 project was set up to counteract what he called ‘the ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry’, he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington.
Squirrels topped the list with 879 ‘attacks’, followed by:

• Birds – 434
• Snakes – 83
• Raccoons – 72
• Rats – 36
• Martens – 22
• Frogs – 3

Most of the animal attacks were on power cables but Mr Thomas also discovered that jellyfish had shut down a Swedish nuclear power plant in 2013, by clogging the pipes that carry cool water to the turbines.

He also discovered that there have been eight deaths attributed to animal attacks on infrastructure, including six caused by squirrels downing power lines that then struck people on the ground.

Mr Thomas only collected reports compiled in the English language and admitted that he was probably only capturing ‘a fraction’ of animal-related power cuts worldwide.

The major difference between natural events be they geological, or furry, is that cyber-attacks are deliberately orchestrated by humans.

While natural disasters are taken into account when critical infrastructure facilities are built, that’s not the case with computers. Most critical facilities were never designed to connect to the rest of the world, so the kind of security they implemented was taking care of the physical world surrounding them.
The number of potential attackers is growing, and the number of potential targets is also going up. We need to reinforce our defences to the maximum – and also worry about squirrels.

Has an animal attack shut your business down? Tweet us at @Altodigital

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