Cyber security expert: Colonial Pipeline hack is ‘tip of the iceberg’

ABC News contributor Elizabeth Neumann, a former Homeland Security assistant secretary, discusses the growth of cyber threats and how to fight ransomware attacks.
5:43 | 05/11/21

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Transcript for Cyber security expert: Colonial Pipeline hack is ‘tip of the iceberg’
And for more on the larger threat of cyber ransom where attacks would bring an ABC news contributor Elizabeth Newman a former assistant secretary of Homeland Security during the trump administration. Well as a bit thanks so much for joining us. In this was a major attack on America's key infrastructure for sure. But it's also not an isolated case give us a sense of just how common these types of cyber attacks are sure in the US and also around the world. That's right Lindsay it is pretty common now had to have cyber cyber attacks particularly on current critical infrastructure. We've seen an increase in attacks adamant and the last year there were as there risen 300% increase of attacks of brands and where type of attacks which is what. The type of attack on the colonial pipeline was. And in particular the last year we've seen a lot of focus on hospitals and other types of critical infrastructure where data is really critical. And so I I think what we unit one mile high wind is just added that the tip of the expert re likely to see more. Us and in December we first heard about that enormous Hackett the information technology firms solar winds and earlier this year hackers breached a water treatment plant in Florida. In an attempt to poison a local water supply those are just two recent cases. How dangerous could these types of cyber attacks the economy descent were likely to continue to see them. Come at them but I'm especially concerned about when they're aimed at our infrastructure or health systems like hospitals. That's sprays are critical infrastructure is the thing that we often don't think much about railroads and that electricity and why her ends. And the types of things that we rely on her daily life and an are quite often are interdependent. Systems so one hinge. System goes down Wednesday electricity each other systems also end up cascading Lee at feeling. A city you take one and it and it the impacts may be something that is entirely. Not the first thing that comes to mind this is particularly true of those types of critical infrastructure. That are the core of the hot what they everything else Brandon electricity and energy in primary in that as solely the concern that we've been seen failures or tax critical infrastructure and that's cascading failures has been around church. Two decades then the cyber security experts have been warning that this could happen. And really the first example Luis. As cyber attack affecting his it goal. In real life and it is critical infrastructure within Ukraine and she doesn't it teen an attack terror and bench cries an outage for just a couple of hours about 230000. People but it really was the alarms signaled that this is really are that are. Our future we are likely seen more of these type of attacks and it pointing more and more disruptive of our daily life. And unless we do better at building resilience and her systems analysts look specifically at ransom where how often are these kinds of risks and simply paid off. Had quite frequently. In the FBI likes you it by is that they don't have the ability to directed spores that should try is. Not to pay the ransom because of course and creates incentives for future attacks but the reality is eating not how. I got out of your data if you don't have a wage to operate your system. Outside of pain every answer and a lot of insurance companies will advise their clients go ahead and paid a Greenspan because. Fast gonna caught classic train to rebuild an entirely new I teachers didn't hate your system crime Porsche weeks if not months so more often than not every mistake. How can we fight off these cyber attacks especially as our critical systems become more automated and potentially more vulnerable to cyber threats. We need resilience we need to. I assume that you're going to have that attack. And it can be as simple as making sure that your data is backed up on a routine basis so that you don't know how to pay ransom because you have that data in a different. Eyes as the sequestered. Place that you can go in retrieve and your resume your operations. Once you hit figured out how they intruded insure networking taking care intrusion. And other ways as we just need to assume that even if you have that could back out there might be a time period where you can't rely on your automated network. And lastly as peer reporting president Biden said today it there's no evidence so far the Russians involved in this pipeline hacked. But there Russia has some responsibility to deal with the so what's a president really saying here. Well it's better belong understated bad it criminal gangs whether they're cyber gangs or other types of organized crime that operate. In the Eastern Europe in the Russian. Domain. Often have relationships with Russian intelligence. So it's Great Britain by an administration being looking deeper than say when Varity Pena is thirties or direct connection. Perhaps Russia has been rather reluctant in the last year's and they. Don't seem to be taking kindly with that president Bryant's claim waged. But and we don't have evidence yet that there's anything directed it but the idea that they are allowed to opry recently we ended. The Russian's purity and slid perhaps within Russia itself. Isn't it it's a sign that Russia is not to living out to international norms and that if somebody committing a crime in your country you take it seriously you work with the international community and the bush bring them to justice Irsay doesn't attendant intend to do that in fact they leverage seize criminal outfits for their corporate purposes and and that's I think what president Biden was getting ash. That there is a responsibility here that Russia owns even if it did not directly attack. Elizabeth Newman thank you so much for your insight appreciate it thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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