Cyberattacks designed to destroy data or control company equipment are being faced by around half of critical infrastructure groups in the Americas, according to a trade body.
A poll by the Organization of American States (OAS), which covers all 35 countries in the region, found that 44% had to combat attempts to delete files on their networks, with 54% had seen hackers try to manipulate their equipment digitally.
It also reported that 40% had to defend against cyberattacks intended to shut down groups’ computer networks, whilst 60% had detected attempts to steal data, in the past the most common motivation for cyberattacks.
Tom Kellerman, VP at security firm Trend Micro which compiled the report, told the newswire Reuters: "We are facing a clear and present danger where we have non-state actors willing to destroy things.
"This is going to be the year we suffer a catastrophe in the hemisphere, and when you will see kinetic response to a threat actor."
Attacks on infrastructure are not unheard of in cybersecurity, with the most infamous example being the Stuxnet virus’s assault on Iranian nuclear centrifuges throughout the noughties, widely linked to the US and Israel.
Last year the movie division of Sony was hit with an unprecedented assault on its networks, disrupting the company for months and leading to the departure of its chairwoman Amy Pascal, stoking fears of similar cyberattacks in the future.
Whilst US authorities pointed to North Korea as the culprit in the Sony hack, many reports at the time suggested the attack might have been carried out by non-state hackers with a grudge against the entertainment firm.