Another hack… it isn’t the big Hack, but we are getting closer. The latest to get our attention happened over the weekend in Oldsmar, Florida. The big Hack will take down our electric grid or financial system or any of our 16 critical infrastructures, or many of them at once, all of them infrastructure we rely on to live our daily lives. That is, the normal way we lived our lives or used to before COV-Sars-2 entered our consciousness, although most of the things we do using critical infrastructure are the same now as they were before COVID-19. Most likely we use more electricity staying at home, bank from home more often, depend on our water supply, and use communications infrastructure with our phones and computers. The transportation system delivers the food and other goods we buy, and we rely on emergency services, on information technologies with internet access to buy things or order food, and on the manufacturing system to make the things we buy, the food we eat, and the health care products we use.
There have been small attacks on numerous critical infrastructures targeting industrial control systems, and the information technology that manages and protects those critical infrastructures. Attacks on the Ukraine electric grid, the dam in New York, Sony pictures and the Saudi oil refinery are just the tip of the iceberg. The defense of our critical infrastructure is no simple task. While the government and large corporations have the resources to protect themselves, smaller municipalities and companies are more vulnerable because they lack the resources for adequate protection and can only afford basic cyber hygiene measures. We are as strong as our weakest cyber defense.
So, what can we do? There are numerous schemas to protect the inevitable from happening. But even the strongest of those are not up to the task. The hackers continue to find the vulnerabilities. Obviously without electricity, our lives would grind to a halt. While working as program manager for a California Public Utilities Commission electric grid cyber security research and development program, I ran across quantum science being used to protect electric grid communications. What drew the Cybersec R&D program to quantum technology was the unique way quantum entanglement could protect our utility communications systems. The digitalization of the electric grid through grid modernization, making the grid smart, has provided great benefit to the utilities that have the resources. Quantum protected networks focused on communications hold great promise. Today quantum protection is being researched or demonstrated in 5G networks, electric utilities, finance, and space-based communications.
China has invested billions of dollars in quantum technologies. The Chinese are well ahead of the United States in quantum communications. They have a quantum network reaching from Beijing to Shanghai and have shown quantum communications from terrestrial to satellite and back to earth. The National Quantum Initiative Act signed into law in 2018 was a great step forward for the United States, but we have a long way to go. Quantum computing is the sexiest application of quantum mechanics and may show the most benefit to mankind. However, securing communications is vitally important and has practical applicability for cybersecurity today – well before quantum computers become a reality.
Why does a hack of a small water utility in Florida, which provides drinking water to 15,000 people, make the news? Poisoning the water we drink is of great concern. Bigger yet is a vulnerability that the United States has across all our critical infrastructure industrial and municipal control systems, one of which is Oldsmar, giving us a warning. Quantum science can make a big difference in this area. More federal, state and local investment is critically needed to protect the US industrial control systems, critically important systems we take for granted today.
Read the full article here: https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/08/us/oldsmar-florida-hack-water-poison/index.html
Corey McClelland, Qubitekk, firstname.lastname@example.org 760 599 5100