Viruses and malware on personal computers can create real problems for users. But what happens when that computer controls a power station or water treatment works?
To understand cyber-attacks on infrastructure, one has to understand the difference between information technology (IT) and industrial control systems (ICS).
“The difference is, there’s something tangible behind [ICS], be it a sensor on a water pump, a control valve on an oil and gas system or a switching box on a transmission system,” says Atkins head of cyber security Andrew Wall. “They do real things in the world, whereas if we send an email to each other it’s just a bit of data floating around.”