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Critical Infrastructure, 60 Minutes, and Missing the Point

By Rich

Here’s the thing about that 60 Minutes report on cybersecurity from the other week. Yes, some of the facts were clearly wrong. Yes, there are massive political fights under way to see who ‘controls’ cybersecurity, and how much money they get. Some .gov types might have steered the reporters/producers in the wrong direction. The Brazilian power outage probably wasn’t caused by hackers.

But so what?

Here’s what I do know:

  • A penetration tester I know who works on power systems recently told me he has a 100% success rate.
  • Multiple large enterprises tell me that hackers, quite possibly from China, are all over their networks stealing sensitive data. They keep as many out as they can, but cannot completely get rid of them.
  • Large-scale financial cybercrime is costing us hundreds of millions of dollars – and those are just the ones we know about (some of that is recovered, so I don’t know the true total on an annual basis).

Any other security professional with contacts throughout the industry talks to the same people I do, and has the same information.

The world isn’t ending, but even though the story has some of the facts wrong, the central argument isn’t that far off the mark.

Nick Selby did a great write-up on this, and a bunch of the comments are focused on the nits. While we shouldn’t excuse sloppy journalism, some incorrect facts don’t make the entire story wrong.

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