KANSAS CITY, Mo. – President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package has many parts, but one that has caught the attention of leaders and experts in the Kansas City area is funding for cybersecurity.
When Mayor Quinton Lucas, of Kansas City, Missouri, returned from his most recent trip to Washington, he did so with a takeaway.
“Cybersecurity is a basic infrastructure,” he said. “We have had cybersecurity attacks. We have famously seen the gas pipeline in the southeastern United States that caused a rise in the price of gas across the country.”
The attack on the colonial pipes was a huge cost to the company that exploits it: $ 4.4 million in ransom. It also cost drivers: 45% of the east coast’s fuel supply came from this pipeline and was stopped for six days.
William Brunkhardt, a cybersecurity expert for the Security Mitigation Group, said not only fuel infrastructure could be the victim of a hack.
“Behind all the pipes, electrical, transmission, utility and water treatment facilities. Behind the scenes, there’s technology that makes this work,” Brunkhardt said. “And whenever you have the technology involved, you run the risk of it being vulnerable and someone exploiting that system.”
Back in Kansas City, Lucas is worried.
“You can paralyze an entire city,” Lucas said. “I think the real threat is that as we enter the 21st century, it’s not just what we consider the traditional terrorist attack. It’s the kind of cyber attack that can lead a city to a terrible place if they suppress it. electrical systems if they suppress our ability to respond to emergencies “.
But Brunkhardt said the risks are not exclusively system problems.
“50% of the cybersecurity threat is hardware, software and interconnected networks,” he said. “The other 50% is the human element.”
That’s why cybersecurity affects everyone, because of all these devices and applications. Checking the “Accept conditions” box is not enough. Experts said the key is to be educated about what apps can do and what users shouldn’t let them do.
“You can do some research, find the right balance,” Brunkhardt said. “And many of these apps have the ability to log in and adjust security controls.”
Tightening the locks can happen at home or in government halls.
“There are people who pay income tax online. There are people who paid permit fees. There are people who are looking to register pets, all sorts of things and they have to make sure that each of these entry points have some level of security, ”Lucas said.
According to Brunkhardt, it is a constant battle to stay ahead of the threat.
“Cybersecurity is really a cat and mouse game,” he said. “And, you know, at this time, we may be ahead of the curve and an hour later today, we may be behind the curve.
“We are fighting a war. And if, if we are not on top of it, if we do not do what we have to do and invest the dollars needed to protect ourselves, we will suffer consequences like we have never suffered.”
Lucas said he met with local representatives and the four senators from Missouri and Kansas on this trip to Washington, and not only expects cybersecurity to be a priority in an infrastructure bill, but has bipartisan support.