When new capabilities cause a shift in the balance between offensive and defensive advantage – or even the perception of such a shift -, it could increase the incentives for aggression. For example, one of the pillars of nuclear deterrence is the "second strike" capability, which puts the following thought into the mind of an actor contemplating a nuclear attack: "even if I destroy my opponent's country totally, their submarines will still be around to take revenge". But suppose swarms of undersea drones were able to track and neutralize the submarines that launch nuclear missiles? Long-range aerial drones can already navigate freely across the oceans, and will be able to fly under the radar deep into enemy territory. Such capabilities make it possible in theory for an actor to escape the fear of second-strike retaliation, and feel safer in launching a pre-emptive strike against aircraft in their hangars, ships in port, and critical infrastructure, with practically no chance of early warning.
The ever-evolving technological landscape we all now live in throws up both benefits and challenges for those tasked with defending our most important utilities, networks and systems, and 2018 could well be the year we see previously theoretical attacks involving artificial intelligence (AI) or automation technologies realized. Aside from new technologies, there are several other challenges facing the protection of infrastructure throughout 2018 and, in this article, we've created our list of five of the most prominent challenges facing critical infrastructure protection in 2018. As our means of protection evolve, so do the ways in which they could be vulnerable or used against us. Remote access methods have shown this previously and artificial intelligence and automation may be about to do it again. In the case of AI, cybersecurity is a big deal.
Is artificial intelligence (AI) the solution to all of our critical infrastructure management problems? Or, put another way, is AI reward worth the AI risk? AI, of course, refers to the use of data-driven algorithms and machine learning to make automated decisions. Critical infrastructure means any kind of physical or virtual system that affects your health, well-being or safety. Power plants and hospitals are often given as examples of critical infrastructure.
The ebb and flow of legal rules when it comes to flying a drone, whether it's a cheap mainstream model or something a little more intense, is confusing. It also differs depending on country, and even state. When it comes to Texas, both the House and the Senate are pushing a bill that could attach jail sentences to any pilot found guilty of flying something over oil and gas drilling facilities, as well as telecomms infrastructure and concentrated animal feeding operations -- factory farms. Politicians want these structures added to a "critical infrastructure" list, where flying a drone lower than 400 feet aboveit would be a Class B misdemeanor and could even mean up to 180 days in jail. The facilities would join a list that includes power plants, dams and other refineries, but critics say the additions would affect the public's First Amendment rights.
Australia's Attorney-General's Department (AGD) has published its exposure draft for the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017, which contains a "last resort" provision enabling ministers to direct companies to conduct risk mitigation actions. The Bill was designed for the purpose of increasing the federal government's capacity to manage national security risks arising as a result of offshore and overseas involvement and control over infrastructure. "Foreign involvement in Australia's critical infrastructure is essential to Australia's economy. However, with increased foreign involvement, through ownership, offshoring, outsourcing, and supply chain arrangements, Australia's national critical infrastructure is more exposed than ever to sabotage, espionage, and coercion," Attorney-General George Brandis said in a statement on Tuesday morning. This last resort power would be used for "critical assets in the high-risk sectors when a significant national security risk cannot otherwise be mitigated", AGD stated in the Security of Critical Infrastructure Bill 2017: Explanatory Document [PDF].