Cyber attacks are happening all the time, with 2020 being the worst year so far for cyber attacks against businesses. The cyber criminal group DarkSide was responsible for a recent cyber attack against Colonial Pipeline. Colonial Pipeline is the largest refined oil pipeline in the USA. The cyber attack caused an interruption in the fuel supply chain in large parts of the eastern USA. This then led to price rises and panic buying causing many fuel suppliers to run out of fuel. In order to prepare for a cyber attack, we need to consider the knock on effects that a cyber attack might have.
Why Might A Cyber Attack Affect Me?
Cyber attacks are often thought of as affecting big businesses or governments. They could, however, directly or indirectly affect anyone.
Cyber attacks against computer systems of businesses or government departments can completely cripple the computer system. This would make the business or government department unable to perform its function. This type of cyber attack can affect anyone who uses the services of the business or government department. Of particular importance are organisations such as banks or other financial institutions, transport or supply chain infrastructure, power grid or water supply, or government departments that deal with finances or infrastructure.
The most severe impact of a cyber attack could be shutting down the power grid for an extended duration. Grid down is a very severe scenario, covered in more detail in our grid down article.
The recent cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline in the USA has demonstrated how a cyber attack against a business can have a huge impact on individuals. The cyber attack effectively shut down the pipeline that supplies refined oil products from Texas to the north-eastern USA. This caused an interruption to the supply chain of fuel in the north-east USA, leading to panic buying, price rises and some petrol stations running out of fuel.
Prepping For A Cyber Attack
As we have discussed above, a cyber attack can have many varied consequences. A cyber attack can lead to a number of other major disaster scenarios, such as grid down. To prepare for a cyber attack, you need to prepare for the consequences of a cyber attack.
A supply of food and water will offset the effects of a disruption to the supply chain or water supply. Reduce your transport need as much as possible to offset any disruption to the oil supply or transport infrastructure. Keep some cash available to use if a cyber attack shuts down the banking system. If a cyber attack takes the power grid down, the result could be major shortages and worse. Our article on grid down covers the effects of the grid going down, and prepping for the grid going down.
Protecting against loss of personal data during a cyber attack on a business or government department is difficult. The security of the data is the responsibility of the organisation. What you can do as an individual is take good care of who you share your personal data with. You also have the right to ask companies that hold your personal data to delete it if they no longer need it for the original purpose that you gave it to them for. The Information Commissioners Office website has more information about how to do this.
The majority of prepping for a cyber attack is actually prepping for other events that a cyber attack could cause. If you can do the following, you are well prepared to deal with a cyber attack:
- Be careful with information you share online, and keep personal information secure.
- Reduce your reliance on external sources for your survival. Prepare to survive after grid down.