Dealing with ransomware was appearing as one of the mighty issues for the Biden administration, and now the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is worried about yet another type of attack, named Killware.
It is as dangerous as it sounds, as it has the potential to kill people instead of robbing them of their money.
The recent Russian-based cyberattack wave against the United States warned many about the ambitions of the US cold war foe.
The newly derived killware attempted to feed contaminated water to the residents of Florida in February 2021, which could have created devastation at a massive scale had it gone as planned.
Florida Escaped a Catastrophe in February Killware Attack
DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas admitted the attack in his recent interview, saying,
“There was a cyber incident that, very fortunately, did not succeed…And that is an attempted hack of a water treatment facility in Florida, and the fact that attack was not for financial gain, but rather purely to do harm.”
Oldsmar, Florida, was the target of the perpetrators, who wanted to engineer the water system of the city to wipe out almost the entirety of the city’s population.
Mayorkas admitted that the aim of the hackers is now to hit the critical infrastructure of the nation, ranging from water facilities to banks to transportation to police departments to hospitals in such a way that the target is law-abiding citizens.
The attack was staged in February 2021, and since then, it has raised the concerns of the nation’s top security agency.
Private stakeholders have warned the government that killware has the potential to manipulate the energy sector of the country, as well as the water distribution system and oil and gas manufacturing and processing plants.
The penetration of smart devices into the generic use of Americans is one of the entrances that hackers have to exploit the technology.
Whether it is the smart thermostat, smart locks, AI-driven vehicles, or any other daily use product, virtually everything will become at risk to hack from killware hackers.
The possibilities of these sorts of attacks are endless in the technology-driven world.
For instance, hackers can change the algorithm of the AI vehicles to trigger accidents and brake failures. Similarly, they can stage the event of their choice by manipulating the programs driving the technology.
Experts are suggesting the timeframe of 2025 when these sorts of attacks can become a new normal.
Killware can be considered as an attack that is intended to kill people, so the scope of these attacks can change based from one scenario to another. For instance, in 2017, the Triton malware was first seen as a threat to maneuver the safety systems that were intended to save workers in case of any disaster.
Had the killware attack been effective back then, many workers would have lost their lives in that incident as well.
Hospitals are Most Prone to Danger in the Upcoming Attacks
Hospitals are likely to be the primary target of the attackers, as killing people there can be easy for the criminals.
The US administration also knows this fact very well and is concerned about attacks on the surgical units and ICUs that can defer the treatment of patients at the last moment to leave them to die.
The cyberattacks on Universal Health Services have already been seen in the past, and killware will be the upgrade of that sort of activity to further push the people into chaos.
The FBI, DHS, and other high-profile institutions have already warned about the severity of the attacks on the healthcare sector last year, and no significant progress has been made until now.
Amid the times of pandemic when the needs for ICUs are greater than ever, killware attacks on hospitals could be nothing less than an absolute disaster.
The government has all the signs about the imminent danger that is looming over the citizens big times.
The hackers are not yet too developed, so they are also struggling to launch a successful killware attack.
The security agencies have some time to develop a counter-strategy before the hackers launch any sort of successful attack somewhere.
Right now, it is easy for the nations’ security agencies to devise a plan and to get intelligence regarding potential future attacks.
However, if ignorance persists, it is only a matter of time that some dangerous event can shake the core of the country.