Cyber attack danger grows

August 14, 2013

Marie Szaniszlo


EARLY WARNING: James Caufield of the Advanced Cyber Security Center in Boston speaks at the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers’ annual conference at the World Trade Center yesterday.

Recent revelations about China hacking U.S. computers have raised awareness of cyber espionage, but some of the greatest threats local governments face are cyber attacks that can be used to defraud people or to plunge an entire city or state into chaos, according to one security expert.

The most damaging attacks could target a community’s infrastructure, such as its water supply or electrical system, said James Caulfield of the Advanced Cyber Security Center in Boston.

“Fortunately, those attacks are more unlikely,” Caulfield told the Herald yesterday at the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers’ annual conference in Boston. “It’s not in the realm of anything we’ve seen to date. It would take as much effort to truck in a bomb.”

What’s more common, he said, are attacks — usually by organized crime — targeting personally identifiable information, or PII, such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth, for the purpose of defrauding the state or individuals.

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