In recent months there has been a lot of discussion in the US about an Internet kill switch. The real idea behind the kill switch is not to protect the infrastructure as claimed, but rather for political control such as has been recently observed in Egypt and other countries.
Proponents of the Internet kill switch paint bleak pictures of Hoover Dam being commandeered by hackers and thousands of people drowning in the resulting floods. According to an article in Wired this simply isn’t the case. This isn’t the first time the Hoover Dam was used as an example or refuted. The question then becomes are the arguments for an Internet kill switch made out of a desire to deceive or simply proposed by people who lack the knowledge of technology to really be proposing such a thing?
When it comes to political actions it is quite easy to get caught up in parties and an us versus them type of mentality, however the preponderance of evidence is that most of these people just don’t have a clue about technology.
The good news is that if you live downstream from Hoover Dam and the Internet kill switch bill is successfully repressed, Armageddon is not coming to a SCADA system near you soon.
For more on SCADA attacks look at some of our Stuxnet discussion if you haven’t seen it.
Director of Technical Education
Cyber Threat Analysis Center
ESET North America
Author ESET Research, ESET