Homeland Security Department (DHS) of the U.S. has said that the number of cybercrimes has sharply risen as compared to previous records. The DHS said that the cyber experts working on the Control System Security Program have tackled 342 requests for assistance so far this year, while the number of such requests in 2010 was only 116, deploying the Emergency Response Team seven times this year as compared to only once or twice in previous years.
Greg Schaffer, the department's deputy undersecretary, said most of these requests came from the Utilities and the Industries, which are becoming increasingly vulnerable after linking their equipment and systems to the internet.
The statement came after the government officials had made their first media tour of secretive defense labs, power grids, water systems and other infrastructure exposed to risk.
"We are connecting equipment that has never been connected before to these global networks," Schaffer said. "Disgruntled employees, hackers and perhaps foreign governments are knocking on the doors of these systems, and there have been intrusions."
These hackers are conceivably using better and more sophisticated methods to break in, than are available to the DHS.
Earlier, the department noted that these kinds of attacks result in "monitoring of a consumer's personal information and communication, and exploitation of that consumer's computing power and Internet access."
Once the network gets infected, the systems under attack are used in theft of highly confidential data, storage and transfer of illegal content or in extreme cases, bringing the entire network on its knees through denial of service attacks.
According to the latest report by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, cyber attacks cost the government and businesses millions of dollars in losses each year.
"The impact has increased in magnitude, and the potential for catastrophic collapse of a company has grown," it said, suggesting that U.S. must develop some concrete and effective strategies that go beyond the current "patch and pray" procedures.
In an attempt to make critical networks more secure by sharing intelligence with the private sector and to better protect the systems of the companies, Pentagon is extending a pilot program that essentially represents the initiative taken by the Obama administration.
Thus far, the program has promised to be fruitful with at least 20 defense companies being involved in it and many more in the pipeline.