Science & Technology
2:29 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

Cyber Attacks Can Happen Anywhere

America's "War on Terror" goes beyond the streets. Battles are being fought on a regular basis over the internet, from Chinese or Korean cyber attacks to hacks from groups and individuals within the United States.

As technology evolves and we become more reliant on the internet, the web presents a frontier of opportunity for mischief-makers, criminals and terrorists.

Denise Van Buren is Vice President of Public Relations at Central Hudson, the utility that serves parts of Albany, Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties, experienced a possible security breach back in February and immediately launched an investigation. They were unable to identify the hackers or pinpoint their location.

Van Buren says the utility is providing all potentially impacted customers with a year of free credit monitoring, but not everyone who has been victimized by hackers is as lucky.

For the present time, hackers have the ability to cause confusion and damage. Although hackers may be capable of accessing a municipal website or a system such as traffic control, Jim Hendler, head of the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says when such events occur, they don’t last very long.

Compared against cyber-breaches involving hacking a utility, banking or  commerce website, Hendler says the ATM network is in a class of its own.

Hendler notes we as a populace have to get smarter to avoid being fooled by hackers who invade government and media trusted websites.

Hendler believes we will all learn to deal with this as the cost of living in a free society.

Case in point, the National Public Radio website was hacked April 15th by an organization claiming support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. After numerous emails back and forth with NPR, the network chose to answer requests for comment by email, admitting its website was compromised, and that bogus news stories - quoting now "...were distributed to and appeared on NPR Member Station websites." Several NPR Twitter accounts were also breached.