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Critical infrastructure systems are being increasingly targeted by sophisticated cyber attacks. A session of the annual Future Networked Car symposium, organized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) on the fringe of the Geneva Motor Show, looked at measures aimed at Mitigating cyber security threats to automotive systems. A wide range of speakers took part, including government representatives, car and accessory manufacturers, automotive cyber security solutions developers and providers.
Imagine someone who hasn’t driven a car in the past 30 years. Taking the wheel of a modern car today, this person would probably be lost trying to figure out all the electronics inside. Voice command, self-driving cars, and even GPS navigation were still sci-fi ideas in the 1980s…
As more and more objects are connected, communicate and interact with each other, in what is labelled the internet of things (IoT), they become building blocks in larger systems. Known and unknown vulnerabilities in this wealth of objects are bound to attract cyber attacks that can bring down entire critical installations in many countries. Protection of IoT components against cyber threats, as well as of the systems that integrate them, is fast becoming a key priority.
Standardization work by the IEC technical committees (TCs) and subcommittees (SCs), and by the Joint Technical Committee (ISO/IEC JTC 1) set up by the IEC and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), is meant to prevent and mitigate the catastrophic impact of cyber attacks on parts of the critical infrastructure everywhere. In addition, IECEE, the IEC System for Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components, is working on a generic conformity assessment (CA) model which can be applied to cyber security.
In recent years broadcasters and multimedia companies have come under sustained cyber attacks aimed for a variety of reasons at damaging their physical assets and pilfering their content. Broadcast and multimedia companies, content providers, vendors and trade organizations are coming together now to tackle these threats. IEC Standards play a central role in their efforts to achieve this.
Recognizing the need to ensure continuity in its standards development and conformity assessment activities, the IEC has, since 2010, reached out to up and coming young experts active in a variety of technological sectors through the IEC Young Professionals Programme and its annual workshop, held in conjunction with the IEC General Meeting.
Railways and metro systems have been the subject of a spate of cyber attacks in recent years. Although no major accidents or casualties have been reported so far, it is likely that the problem will get worse and affect safety. As train signalling and control systems move from what were essentially closed systems to open ones based on mobile communication and IP (internet protocol) technologies, cyber security becomes ever more important. IEC International Standards will play a major role in this sector.
IEC TC 13: Electrical energy management and control, has published a new Standard which significantly enhances the security of electricity metering prepayment systems, widely used in developing countries around the world.
Innovation brings new challenges – or, put another way, every silver lining has a cloud. While the Internet has given us connected, smart and interactive technologies, it has also spawned the murky, underground world of cyber crime.
As we move towards more connected environments, cyber security threats are increasing. One technology that could help with data protection is blockchain, which is also starting to be used in some renewable energy projects.
IEC Technical Committee (TC) 65: Industrial process measurement, control and automation, has recently published IEC 62443-4-1 on the life-cycle requirements for secure product development in industrial automation and control systems. The publication is the latest in the IEC 62443 series of Standards, a comprehensive set of guidelines that can be implemented in any professional environment, including those covering critical infrastructure, such as power plants or transport networks. These Standards are also increasingly used in the medical sector to protect patient data.
In recent months, a number of international studies and reports have highlighted an alarming increase in cyber attacks targeting the supply chain. One such survey, conducted in the Americas, Asia and Europe, suggests that in the past year two thirds of companies have experienced a cyber attack on their supply chain.
Broadcasters, and media companies in general, have been increasingly targeted by cyber attacks from a wide range of actors in recent years. Standardization organizations, IEC in particular, the broadcasting and media industry, and professional associations work together to try to thwart these attacks and, failing this, to mitigate their impact. In some countries, such as the US, the government considers broadcasters part of the critical infrastructure, owing to their ability to keep the public informed in event of emergencies.
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