CBC NEWS -‘Somebody could actually die’: Cybercrime’s grave threat to automated resource firms

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Daniel Tobok
E: [email protected]
Posted on: March 20, 2019

Cybercriminals are betting the company whose gear no longer obeys instructions would be willing to pay dearly to avoid such a situation.

“It’s no longer a bunch a pimple-faced kids in mommy and daddy’s basement — it’s organized crime,” said Daniel Tobok, CEO and co-owner of Toronto-based Cypfer, who says his company investigates 40 data breach attacks on private Canadian companies every month, often tracing the attacks to foreign hackers.

“It’s theft of intellectual property, it’s espionage, but it all comes down to money as a motivation.”

He estimates the attacks cost Canada $3 billion to $5 billion per year in proceeds to criminals, adding one Calgary energy company was forced to pay $200,000 in ransom three years ago to regain control of its corrupted digital production systems.

Automation and risk

The rise of the so-called “Internet of Things” — in which machines communicate autonomously with each other — means companies are increasingly employing automation and remote control to drive bulldozers, diggers and heavy trucks, or control drilling and processing equipment. Such automation delivers labour savings but also presents more targets for hackers, making the overall system more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“Somebody could actually die,” said Tobok.