Hackers managed to infiltrate and shut down an enormous tunnel system in Israel last month, causing massive traffic jams for eight hours, according to the AP. Though their sources indicate that the attack didn't come from a state actor, this first strike opens up a whole new world of cyber warfare.
The attack against the Carmel Tunnels on September 8th actually came in two waves, according to the report. The hackers targeted the Tunnels' camera system which put the roadway into an immediate lockdown mode, shutting it down for twenty minutes. The next day the attackers managed to break in for even longer during the heavy morning rush hour, shutting the entire system for eight hours:
The expert said investigators believe the attack was the work of unknown, sophisticated hackers, similar to the Anonymous hacking group that led attacks on Israeli websites in April. He said investigators determined it was not sophisticated enough to be the work of an enemy government like Iran.
The expert said Israel's National Cyber Bureau, a two-year-old classified body that reports to the prime minister, was aware of the incident. The bureau declined comment, while Carmelton, the company that oversees the toll road, blamed a "communication glitch" for the mishap.
As the Carmel Tunnels are a main artery through the heart of the Israeli city of Haifa, an enormous amount of traffic ensued. Perhaps more alarming, the city had apparently planned to turn the massive tunnel system into a public shelter in case of emergency.
We've seen cyberwarfare before, most famously by the United States and Israel in the form of their combined virus Stuxnet, most attacks have been on military targets. In cases where attacks on the physical world have come against civilians, they've come against large multi-national conglomerates like Saudi Aramco that serve strategic needs.
So this is attack will probably prove to be of major significance.
It's not like no one's predicted this sort of thing before, though. Governments, public utilities, and private corporations the world over have prepared for and weathered attacks in the past, and this is just a natural progression of what we've already seen.
But a world in which your next traffic jam is caused not by a collision or construction, but by malicious actors intent on causing harm is a scary place indeed.
Photo of the Carmel Tunnels via Avi Shmoul