Electricity, communications, and money: What could a cyberattack on the United States look like?

The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a bulletin about possible cyber threats from Iran. It said at this time, there's no specific, credible threat in the United States, but it also noted Iran and terror groups have the ability to disrupt critical infrastructure.

Posted: Jan 7, 2020 5:56 PM
Updated: Jan 7, 2020 6:27 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a bulletin about possible cyber threats from Iran. It said at this time, there's no specific, credible threat in the United States, but it also noted Iran and terror groups have the ability to disrupt critical infrastructure.

Federal agencies along with state and local partners are defending against any possible attacks. Indiana State University cybersecurity professor William Mackey says Iran has long been a major power in cyber offensive tactics.

He said they've been a known threat to not only the United States but worldwide for quite some time. They shut down Turkey's power grid in 2013 and infiltrated the U.K.'s parliament a couple of years ago. Mackey said what's also concerning is that they are allied closely with Russia.

LINK | IN THE DARK: PREPARING FOR ELECTRICAL GRID HACKERS

What they lacked for some time was motivation to attack the U.S. in severely disruptive ways. With General Soleimani's assassination, Mackey says Iran targeting us with cyber-attacks becomes more of a reality.

"We could expect that if they were to be able to shut off some of this critical infrastructure, we would temporarily lose, for instance, power or communications," Mackey said, "Gas pumps might shut off, ATM's won't work, things of that nature. It could be pretty disruptive."

Mackey also touched on how prepared the United States is if an attack of this nature were to happen. He says cybersecurity is a well-known problem area in the United States. It's improved significantly in the last few years and we are taking steps to prepare ourselves for any attacks.

The Federal Government is providing all 92 counties in Indiana with funds to protect county governments against cyberattacks. Mackey says Indiana has tried to become a model for the rest of the nation in a lot of cybersecurity areas. He noted the Indiana Executive Council in Cybersecurity as working hard to make our state more secure.

He says it's been well-known by previous intelligence officials that Iran has infiltrated a lot of our critical infrastructure before. Overall, Mackey says we are as prepared as we can be for something like this to happen.

"It's hard to be perfectly prepared because you never know what exactly that attack is going to look like--what kind of measures they might take and how sophisticated it might be," he concluded, "We have come a long way from where we were just a couple years ago in terms of how prepared we are for an attack like that."

Mackey says the length of such an attack or disruption really depends on how complex it is. It could be as short as a few hours, or it could last months depending on its sophistication. 

Terre Haute
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 36°
Robinson
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 37°
Indianapolis/Eagle Creek
Partly Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 44° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 34°
Paris
Clear
41° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 33°
Mattoon/Charleston
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 36°
Terre Haute
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 36°
Terre Haute
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 36°
Sunshine returns!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Meteorological Spring begins March 1st

Image

The FBI warns you against this new type of scam

Image

Irish Dash deadline approaching

Image

All You Need to Know for Monday

Image

Monday: Sunshine returns, cooler. High: 43

Image

Sunday Evening Forecast

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Loogootee GBB State Finals

Image

Brycen Graber All-Time Assist Record

Image

Saturday Evening Forecast

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1186613

Reported Deaths: 22735
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook4743979359
DuPage767651196
Will65037893
Lake59517921
Kane50746717
Winnebago28340439
Madison27987455
St. Clair25440466
McHenry24315265
Champaign18105126
Peoria16897262
Sangamon16128217
McLean14601157
Tazewell13521240
Rock Island13065286
Kankakee12496189
Kendall1105986
LaSalle10798219
Macon9457185
Vermilion8564116
DeKalb8265112
Adams8003114
Williamson6796121
Whiteside5926147
Boone592371
Clinton557189
Coles519691
Grundy512063
Ogle502073
Knox5017132
Jackson461060
Effingham449269
Macoupin435079
Henry432956
Marion4262111
Livingston419877
Franklin414566
Stephenson409675
Monroe406583
Jefferson3976115
Randolph396378
Woodford367560
Morgan358776
Montgomery349568
Lee335243
Logan331053
Bureau330773
Christian330568
Fayette306452
Perry305457
Fulton285244
Iroquois277160
Jersey249646
Douglas244432
McDonough232740
Saline229747
Lawrence229624
Union218536
Shelby213934
Crawford200723
Bond190924
Cass188822
Pike169150
Clark168630
Wayne167448
Hancock167129
Warren166444
Richland163538
White160825
Jo Daviess160522
Ford158445
Washington158323
Carroll157634
Edgar154237
Moultrie149124
Clay142841
Greene137932
Johnson134712
Piatt132714
Wabash130012
Mason128641
Mercer128033
De Witt127922
Massac127133
Cumberland119218
Jasper110917
Menard10368
Marshall83815
Hamilton78815
Schuyler6775
Pulaski6706
Brown6636
Stark54122
Edwards52310
Henderson49814
Calhoun4782
Scott4491
Alexander4488
Gallatin4374
Putnam4153
Hardin34412
Pope2823
Out of IL00
Unassigned02219

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 661673

Reported Deaths: 12573
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion906391639
Lake48389876
Allen35806635
Hamilton32056396
St. Joseph29947512
Elkhart25376414
Vanderburgh21245378
Tippecanoe20000201
Johnson16336359
Porter15957270
Hendricks15813300
Clark11946181
Madison11741316
Vigo11595229
Monroe10328161
Delaware9836179
LaPorte9761196
Howard9055197
Kosciusko8561109
Bartholomew7448147
Warrick7412150
Hancock7404131
Floyd7200169
Wayne6631191
Grant6424157
Morgan6084125
Boone608288
Dubois5903111
Dearborn547067
Cass544399
Marshall5423104
Henry542093
Noble509078
Jackson464566
Shelby460290
Lawrence4180112
Gibson401281
Harrison399663
Clinton395453
Montgomery386783
DeKalb385178
Knox357285
Miami357263
Whitley349136
Huntington343976
Steuben338155
Wabash331176
Putnam329759
Ripley327061
Adams323149
Jasper315943
White297352
Jefferson294873
Daviess285396
Fayette271556
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260831
Wells258274
Scott250350
Clay241044
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217130
Jennings215044
Washington211027
Sullivan203239
Fountain201442
Starke188051
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177728
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164722
Vermillion160442
Franklin159435
Tipton146341
Parke139216
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91913
Crawford90613
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53311
Unassigned0431