In 2016, a series of highly impactful and publicized disruptions provided a wake-up call to societies on both sides of the Atlantic making obvious their dependence on inherently unpredictable technology. Just before the year began, a targeted attack disrupted the Ukrainian energy grid, forcing its operators to fall back on decades-old manual processes, and a similar attack followed late in the year. The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles was forced to shut down for weeks as a critical patient-care system was unintentionally disrupted by ransomware—a common plague that impacted many other parts of societal infrastructure through the year, including San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), US electricity providers, and hospitals in the United States and across Europe. At the same time, a botnet of poorly secured devices disrupted large portions of the US Internet and knocked more than one million German households offline. And while the Russian breach of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the associated influence campaign continue to shock many in the United States and beyond, the specter of hackable voting computers also cast doubt on the US electoral system in the lead-up to and aftermath of the presidential election.

Beau Woods authors ‘Confronting Transatlantic Cybersecurity Challenges in the Internet of Things,’ in which he explains how the society is only one cyber crisis away from proving how unimaginative policy makers have been. The issue brief and its recommendations are based on a series of discussions around Europe with policy makers, private sector leaders, academics, and cybersecurity researchers identifying ways to confront cybersecurity challenges facing the transatlantic community in 2017 and beyond.


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