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Hackers could target major infrastructure links to cause summer travel hell



Hackers could target major infrastructure links to cause summer travel hell

A cyber security expert has warned that hackers could target major infrastructure to spark a summer of travel hell, potentially causing disruption to thousands of people.

Alexandra Forsyth, a cyber security expert at AFRG, told that hacktivists could disrupt the operations of airports and train stations and take them offline thus preventing flights from taking off or trains from leaving.

What’s more, these hacks would have financial as well as logistical implications for the countries these hackers attacked. It comes ahead of a massive summer of sport during which it is feared that Russia’s Vladimir Putin could launch a cyber attack.

Ms Forsyth also said there was the potential for consumer trust and reputations to be impacted as a result of these hacks.

On potential attacks on infrastructure, Ms Forsyth said: “It is possible for hackers to target major transport links such as airports, train stations, flights etc, and the impact would be short-term, taking systems offline and therefore disrupting operations.

“So train stations will not be able to operate, or flights due to cancellations/network issues, as a result of DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service). This is one of the main aims for hacktivist groups, to carry out DDoS – specifically targeting an organisation’s network / machines to make them inoperational and non-functioning.

“The impact could be widespread if we think about supply chains, train stations being linked nationwide, and airline suppliers etc. But, it is important to note hacktivist groups, while carrying out mass disruption, the impacts are most likely short-term.

“Organisations should be able to get their systems back up and running, however, the time frame depends on cyber security measures already in place which will help with recovery.”

Ms Forsyth added: “Depending on the status of the organisation targeted, and whether data was stolen in the cyber attack, reputational impacts, loss of clientele, and consumer trust/loyalty due to media scrutiny is also likely”.

One of the main points of focus particularly this summer is the Paris Olympics in France during which thousands of people will descend on the city. An ex-FBI agent told that it was “almost guaranteed” that Putin could attempt to disrupt the event.

Defence expert Adam Marre explained: “I think the likelihood of Russian interference in the Olympics is almost guaranteed.

“They’ve done something for every Olympics since 2016 when they were banned from competing under their flag. What that could look like is many things and I think that’s a little bit harder to guess.”

Mr Marre added: “It should be noted that for this particular Olympics, there is more than just Russian athletes not being able to compete under their flag, there is also the issue of the war in Ukraine and France’s outspoken support of Ukraine against the Russian invasion there.

“You could definitely have a targeting of the Metro system or other transportation means, it could be ride hailing services or anything like that. That is definitely going to disrupt people.

“If you could have a disruption on a transportation network that would be a real win for them because it would disrupt the games in a very noticeable way.”

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