Cyber attacks pose real threats in Indiana, say officials

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MUSCATATUCK, Ind. - What if electricity or drinking water was cut off to entire cities? It’s a real possibility, with hackers capable of taking down entire cities with a couple of clicks.

“The threat that’s out there is growing by the day,” said Cliff Campbell, the General Manager of Frakes Engineering.

And there’s no simple solution to end that growing threat.

“It’s not a crime the FBI can arrest its way out of,” said Jay Abbott, the Special Agent in charge of the FBI in Indianapolis.

But in Muscatatuck, a military training facility in Southern Indiana, FBI, state and federal homeland security officials train to handle a large-scale cyber attack.

Municipal water and electric companies were mock victims in Thursday’s training.

“If they’re able to penetrate those areas and control those systems that manage our water, our electricity, and other services that we use every day, that’s a real threat to us,” said Abbott.

With the state and federal governments spending millions of dollars on training and cyber attack prevention, we wanted to know how real of a threat there is in Indiana.

Campbell, a cyber-security expert, ran Thursday’s training exercise and said hacking into a city’s private server was once difficult but has now become common and incredibly easy.

“It’s kind of an open book at this point with the explosion of the information age; it’s been a double-edged sword for control systems,” he said.

“Even if it’s not a terrorist attack it can be just a lark. It creates real problems for the way that community operates,” said John Hill, Deputy Chief of Staff among Governor Mike Pence’s public safety team.

Hill said cities though are not the only targets for cyber attacks. All eyes now are on safety and prevention for one of the world’s largest sporting events, the Indy 500, taking place in less than two weeks, where a cyber-attack could be crippling.

“While we certainly don’t have any intelligence to indicate that kind of scenario’s unfolding, we do plan, prepare, and exercise in these areas, routinely,” said Hill.

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