Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Charlie Miller: EU Cyber Assault Would Cost €86 Million

Andrew Rettman writes on

A malicious foreign power could - given €86 million, 750 people and two years to prepare - launch a devastating cyber attack on the EU, a US security expert has said.

The assault would begin with a member of staff at, say, the London Stock Exchange or the French electricity grid operator, RTE, opening a PDF attachment in an email which looks as if it had been sent by a colleague.

The PDF would contain software enabling a hacker on a different continent to silently take over his computer. Over time, the hacker would monitor the employees' keystrokes, sniff out passwords, and use the information to take over computers higher up the command chain, eventually putting him in a position to switch off the target's firewalls, leaving it open to DOS (Denial of Service) attacks, and to install RATs (Remote Administration Tools), which control its hardware.

Around 18 to 21 months down the line, with enough targets compromised, the assault could take place.

The EU 27 countries would wake up to find electricity power stations shut down; communication by phone and Internet disabled; air, rail and road transport impossible; stock exchanges and day-to-day bank transactions frozen; crucial data in government and financial institutions scrambled and military units at home and abroad cut off from central command or sent fake orders.

Normal life could be restarted in a few days' time. But the damage done to administrative capacity, consumer confidence and the economy by loss of vital data would last years.

More here.


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