Hacking attacks that destroy rather than steal data or that manipulate equipment are far more prevalent than widely believed, according to a survey of critical infrastructure organizations throughout North and South America. The poll by the Organization of American States, to be released on Tuesday, found that 40 percent of respondents had battled attempts to shut down their computer networks, 44 percent had dealt with bids to delete files and 54 percent had encountered "attempts to manipulate" their equipment through a control system.
Those figures, provided exclusively to Reuters ahead of the official release, are all the more remarkable because only 60 percent of the 575 respondents said they had detected any attempts to steal data, long considered the predominant hacking goal. By far the best known destructive hacking attack on U.S. soil was the electronic assault last year on Sony Corp's Sony Pictures Entertainment. The outcry over that breach, joined by President Barack Obama, heightened the perception that such destruction was an unusual extreme, albeit one that has been anticipated for years.
"Everyone got outraged over Sony, but far more vulnerable are these services we depend on day to day," said Adam Blackwell, secretary of multidimensional security at the Washington, D.C.-based group of 35 nations.
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