What's the danger of a rogue state hacking Guam's infrastructure - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

What's the danger of a rogue state hacking Guam's infrastructure?

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A ballistic missile threat to Guam is one of the first things people think of when discussing the recent threats from North Korea, however one security expert tells KUAM News that a less obvious danger is the potential for the rogue state to hack the island's critical infrastructure.

Last year the idea may have seemed farfetched - North Korea hacking the critical infrastructure of Guam - but former Air Force intelligence officer and cyber security expert John Dickson says it's less implausible than you might think now that Guam is in the crosshairs between the United States and North Korea.

Dickson said North Korea has aggressively improved its cyber capabilities over the past two years. "So they joined the ranks of Russia, and china in what we call nation state actors or nation state attackers or threats, which means they have some state resources, obviously, they are a country, and they also have a motive and technical talent, that's what they've developed in the past two, three years," he explained.

Cyber aggression from nation states is nothing new though, with Dickson referencing the 2014 Sony hack, where Sony alleged North Korea sponsored the release of confidential company information just as it was set to premiere a movie making fun of the North Korean leader. Russia is also accused of extensive cyber attacks in the Ukraine and possibly even interference with the United States presidential elections. But when it comes to warfare, Dickson said cyber attacks would likely be geared toward critical infrastructure like the power grid.

"The interesting thing about any electrical grid is it doesn't typically attract a hacker because there's no money there, so the attackers that are going to go after an electrical grid are almost always going to be nation state threats. So I would not be surprised if the north Koreans would add the electrical sector as something that would be worthy at least of reconnaissance and probing," he said.

"The nuclear risk there is well documented, but this is another facet of it - when you start bumping into nation state threats, this is part of what they do."

Guam Homeland Security advisor George Charfauros has publicly said that boosting the island's cyber security capabilities is one of his top priorities. Dickson recommends implementing cybersecurity frameworks offered by the National Institute for Standards and Technology or the multi state information sharing and analysis center.

However the issue is on the radar for the Guam Homeland Security Office which has held a number of cybersecurity trainings for government agencies over the past few years.

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