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Cybersecurity Terms that Every Engineer Should Know

Dale Wuokko, P.E.

Information technology and networked operational technology systems are increasingly under cyberattack. In May 2017 the malicious “WannaCrypt” (also known as “WannaCry”) malware targeting Microsoft Windows operating systems spread across the globe. This cyberattack encrypted data in infected computers preventing users from accessing their data unless they paid a ransom to the perpetrators using Bitcoin to obtain the decryption key. Earlier in March Microsoft had issued a security update to patch this vulnerability. However, many computers remained unpatched and, as a result, hospitals, businesses, governments, and computers at homes were affected. This included unpatched software at engineering firms and suppliers.

As the Internet-of-Things continues to expand so will cyberattacks. These cyberattacks have the potential to adversely impact critical infrastructure which includes systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on the Nation’s security, public health, safety, or economy, or any combination of those matters. The design, operation and maintenance of critical infrastructure is addressed by many engineering disciplines, including civil, electrical, mechanical, industrial, hydrological, environmental, computer, and others. Tunnels serving as the primary conduit for transportation, water, electric communications, and natural gas lines; bridges; dams; water treatment plants; electric power generating plants; supply lines bringing power, communications, food, and water to a community; and hospitals are all examples of critical infrastructure.

In the face of the increasing growth of cyberattacks, it is imperative that today’s engineers have a good understand¬ing of key cybersecurity terms and definitions. This course provides the engineering community with a reference of key cybersecurity terms and definitions.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

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