Hackers more likely to destroy than steal data
Hacking attacks that destroy rather than steal data or that manipulate equipment are far more prevalent than widely believed, according to a survey of critical infrastructure organisations throughout North and South America.
The poll by the Organization of American States found that 40pc of respondents had battled attempts to shut down their computer networks, 44pc had dealt with bids to delete files and 54pc had encountered "attempts to manipulate" their equipment through a control system.
Only 60pc of the 575 respondents said they had detected any attempts to steal data, long considered the predominant hacking goal.
By far the best known destructive hacking attack on US soil was the electronic assault last year on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which wiped data from the Hollywood fixture's machines and rendered some of its internal networks inoperable.
The outcry over that breach, joined by US President Barack Obama, heightened the perception that such destruction was an unusual extreme, albeit one that has been anticipated for years.
Destruction of data presents little technical challenge compared with penetrating a network, so the infrequency of publicised incidents has often been ascribed to a lack of motive for attackers.
Now that hacking tools are being spread more widely, however, more criminals, activists, spies and business rivals are experimenting with such methods. (Reuters)