Future cyber attacks can shut down infrastructure and defraud the public sector of billions, a new report released by CSIRO at CeBIT’s Cyber Security Conference warned.
Many of these future attacks could take advantage of vulnerabilities similar to “Heartbleed”, a major internet security flaw which allows attackers to gain access to encrypted passwords, credit card details, and other data on trusted websites including Facebook, Gmail, Instagram, and Pinterest.
The report said hackers could soon use similar holes in computer security to shut down energy grids, disrupt public services, and steal vast amounts of private data worth billions of dollars, unless institutions take measures today to prepare against future Heartbleed-like threats.
“Despite recently being ranked second in the Asia-Pacific region when it comes to cyber-security capabilities, we need to recognize that our increasing reliance on digital services leaves us potentially vulnerable at unprecedented scales,” said James Deverell, Director, CSIRO Futures.
“The sheer complexity and interconnectedness of different elements of our digital economy means we can expect rapid exponential growth in the number, speed, and severity of breaches – far beyond what any single organization can tackle on its own.”
CSIRO’s latest report, "Enabling Australia’s Digital Future: Cyber Security Trends and Implications," looks at how a far greater number of future online attackers – anyone from a disgruntled employee to organized cybercriminals – could cause widespread disruption and financial losses by hacking into Australia’s digital services and infrastructure, including public services like patient health records and taxation data.