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South Australian power outage provides a taste of what a cyber attack on critical infrastructure could bring

Roger Bradbury, a professor in the Australian National University’s National Security College, has warned that the recent wide-area power outage in South Australian shows how vulnerable critical infrastructure is to a future cyber attack.

Writing for ‘The Australian’ Professor Bradbury states:

“The shutdown of South Australia last week is a near-perfect example of the impact of a cyber attack. A one-day shutdown led to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to the economy, disruptions to citizens’ lives and an unravelling of political, social and economic certainties. Sure, South Australia has peculiarities that made it particularly susceptible to such an event. But the shutdown nevertheless shows in high relief the vulnerability of today’s interconnected systems of critical infrastructure.What we saw last week was not just a loss of the electricity network but also the shutdown of the other infrastructure networks: telecommunications, water, sewerage, transport, financial services, the internet and so on.”

“A cyber attack would take advantage of these interdependencies," continues Professor Bradbury, "and would look exactly like the chaos in South Australia. Such an attack would be initiated through the Internet rather than through the electricity system as we saw last week. But a cyber attack would not stay inside the cyber system. It would spread to electricity, water, financial, transport and other systems big time. It would bring them to their knees.”

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