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When cybercrime comes to mind, one usually thinks of a data breach affecting organizations such as Target, Anthem or Home Depot. What is often overlooked, however, is the threat of a cyber terrorist causing physical harm or environmental pollution. In an effort to maximize efficiency, many industrial companies have turned to automated systems so they can handle things like waterlines, hazardous materials and other HVAC utilities safer and with a greater ease of access.

This threat should not be taken lightly as it has already happened before. In 2000, a hacker was able to dump nearly a million liters of unprocessed sewage into a major Australian waterway. Again in 2009, a disgruntled worker managed to tamper with alarm systems on several offshore oil rigs. The fact of the matter is that industrial or environmental type plants have a wider audience of potential people who would like to use cyber-attacks against them. Other example is, a business getting extorted for money. Industrial plants may be targeted by actual terrorist looking to cause harm to the civilian population, hijacked for ransom, or even tampered with by a bored teenager.

While nothing can be done to completely erase the risk, purchasing environmental insurance and increasing awareness are  excellent steps in the right direction. Oftentimes the operators of industrial plants place too much faith in their engineers to completely prevent the attacks  by having multiple fail safes and an airtight system. They believe that buying environmental coverage  undermines the work of their engineers, but in reality it is the smartest choice and could save a business after an incident.

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