Government Technology
By Bill Schrier: Making technology work for a city government.

Could a City be Hacked to its Knees?

February 4, 2013 By

we-are-anonymousThe New York Times had the audacity to research and write a story critical of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s family. In return for its journalism, the Chinese government apparently unleashed a four-month long hacker attack against the Times stealing, among other data, every one of its employees’ passwords. This effort was apparently searching for the sources for the story. Ars Technica has a short, frightening, account of the hack.

And, of course, the Chinese government succeeded – would people crticial of the regime dare to talk to the New York Times now, knowing its technology can be hacked?

There are many related and frightening stories – the Wall Street Journal was attacked, a power station in the United States has been offline for three weeks due to an attack based on a USB drive, and, of course, Anonymous (or someone) has been hard at work with denial of service and web defacing attacks on banks and government agencies. Could a City, County or State government be subject to a similar attack?

A few years ago, when I was CIO in Seattle, I would have dismissed the notion out of hand.

A City government does not hold the secrets to making a nuclear weapon in its digital vaults, nor do cities have active networks of foreign spies (with the possible exception of my friends in the Big Apple) whose identity needs to be uncovered by foreign powers.


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Comments

Larry Karisny    |    Commented February 7, 2013

I have written 28 articles in Digital Communities on the subject of hacking critical infrastructure and I can assure you a city could be taken down: www.govtech.com/authors/98561004.html . We need to recognize that the protection of these infrastructures can only be done at the local level. There is no Federal magic pill that can correct these security issues. We also have solutions to the problem and aren't acting on them. That is the real problem. Good article Bill.

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