HOUSTON – When it comes to potential cyber-attacks for the Houston area, do you know where we stand?
“We are a recipe for an attack,” said the assistant special agent in charge of FBI Houston’s Cyber Critical Infrastructure Branch Mark Webster.
Webster recently sat down with KPRC 2 Investigates to discuss the potential of cyber attacks in the Houston area by individual foreign operatives and other nations, as a result of the conflict seen abroad in recent months.
The agency’s strategy to combat cyber attacks also includes collaborating with various corporations and entities around the Houston area that may be or have been targeted.
“I interface with the private sector on a daily basis or at least somebody from my team,” said Webster.
The strategic collaboration consists of open channels designed to keep everyone aware of potential cyber incursions.
“They are partners with us. They are force multipliers,” he added.
Strength in numbers to better prevent outsiders from breaking through and disrupting critical infrastructures.
The Houston area has 16 critical infrastructures according to officials.
“The sheer, robust size of our critical infrastructure is one of the things that sets us apart from everyone else.”
Industries like oil and gas, aerospace, the Houston port, universities, and the Texas Medical Center are all ripe targets for hackers to not only disrupt operations but also obtain corporate secrets.
“They’re looking for data, the infrastructure a network of ‘PI’, what we refer to as ‘personal information’ and they are looking to exploit that,” said Webster.
Potential attacks that can cripple any industry.
They also have been on the FBI’s radar for years with various tabletop exercises conducted to better prepare for the complexities of a potential cyber attack.
These attacks are much different than traditional warfare, a launch can take place thousands of miles away without any visible presence.
“At the end of the day, cyber security is borderless,” Webster said.
Another contributor to the FBI in identifying or preventing these attacks is the public.
The FBI says tips can always be submitted to their agency or the Internet Crimes Complaint Center at IC3.gov.