The Looming Crisis You’re Not Hearing About, by Jim Rickards

It doesn’t get much press, but America’s infrastructure is exquisitely vulnerable to hacking and other malfeasance. From Jim Rickards at dailyreckoning.com:

All the talk about Russian tampering with the 2016 presidential election, which is vastly overstated by the way, diverts attention from the more fundamental problem:

The vulnerability of America’s critical infrastructure to cyberattack by hostile actors.

When I say critical infrastructure, I mean the power grid, hydroelectric systems, nuclear power plants, energy pipelines, railroads, air traffic control systems, internet and stock exchanges.

These are large, complex systems that affect the entire country. And they are computerized and automated like never before. The scale and degree of interconnectedness are increasing, which creates great vulnerabilities.

If any of them fail, it could lead to massive disruptions, panic and social unrest.

Look at the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005, for example. That was an interesting case study in what I call the veneer of civilization and how quickly it can break down under emergency conditions.

Imagine what would happen, for example, if a virus implanted in the control system of a hydroelectric dam opened floodgates to inundate downstream targets, killing thousands by drowning and destroying bridges, roads and agriculture.

Meanwhile, hackers have targeted nuclear power plants. Last year alone, government sources say a dozen U.S. nuclear power plants were targeted, possibly by Russian hackers.

Now, the operations of most nuclear power plants use older analog systems, so they aren’t vulnerable to cyberattacks. They aren’t connected to the net. It’s one case where older and less sophisticated is better.

But hackers are extremely creative, and increasing digitization of these plants could allow hackers backdoor entry points into critical operating systems. I don’t need to spell out the possibilities.

Or think of what would happen if the power grid went down for an extended stretch. Imagine what it would mean for air travel if air traffic control systems were down for a long period.

That’s just for starters.

To continue reading: The Looming Crisis You’re Not Hearing About

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