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Crossing the Divide – How Cyberattacks Affect the Physical World

By Finserv MARKETS - Apr 26,2019
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Crossing the Divide – How Cyberattacks Affect the Physical World

As technology advances, the digital world is becoming increasingly intertwined with the physical world. India is rapidly progressing towards achieving its dream of being a digitally empowered nation, however, cyber-crime is also undergoing a tectonic shift in its modus operandi. Yet most of us are still under the belief that critical control systems for the “physical world” assets and processes would either be too mechanical or too complex to be connected to a network as wide as the Internet. In reality, several critical Industrial Control Systems (ICS) that manage energy, communications, water, transport, and manufacturing plants, are increasingly being controlled remotely through the internet. This, in turn, makes them vulnerable to cyber threats.

If we move away from the world of industrial control systems, everyday applications such as power systems, navigation, and even medical devices rely increasingly on the use of networked sensors and control systems for device management. Even your air conditioner requires a Wi-Fi these days so that you can start cooling your room remotely. However, little do we realise that with every network connection created, the cyber risk for non-IT related devices increases. Each new device connected to the internet represents an additional access point for hackers. Hence, you don’t need to look very far to get a sense of the potential risks to property and other physical assets from cyber-attacks. To give you a clearer picture, here are some scenarios, where virtual cyber-attacks can actually cause damage to the physical world:

  1. Does your building have computerized elevator or entry systems, wherein the employees are issued smartcards for access? In case your office network is hacked, hackers could lock down your building, trapping employees inside.
  2. Factory robots can be hacked to destroy products rather than create them.
  3. Fire alarm systems can be disabled just as real-world arsonists attack.
  4. Logistic servers that manage orders and deliveries can be hacked disrupting your supply chain.
  5. Connected thermostats can be hacked to drive temperature to unbearable levels.

All of these instances may sound far-fetched, and right out of a sci-fi movie, but unfortunately, it has become a reality. A cyber-attack on a German steel mill in late 2014 caused immense physical damage after hackers disabled the shut-down function of a blast-furnace, leading to massive property loss. There are have been several such incidents across the world when cybercriminals inflicted massive damage to the physical world.

Consequently, there’s an urgent need to alter our approach to cyber security. Going forward, opting for Cyber Insurance or Digital Insurance is not going to be a choice but an absolute necessity in order to stay protected financially. With Cyber Insurance Plans at Finserv MARKETS, you can secure a wide coverage against several cybersecurity threats such as email spoofing, phishing, malware, Identity theft, data breach and much more. Buy Bajaj Allianz Individual Cyber Safe Insurance Policy at Finserv MARKETS to stay protected against the financial risks of cyber-attacks.

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