How is cyber crime a threat to environmental sustainability?

Breach of cybersecurity includes fear of ransomed or lost data, leakage of corporate secrets and phishing scams. In today’s world, most of the operations in big organizations are controlled by digital technologies. Thus there is a huge risk of damage to the property, harm to a person or even an imbalance of the sustainability of the environment due to cyber threats.

Companies that mainly deal with natural resources like refineries, power plants, factories or water treatment facilities are heavily dependant on automated digital technologies to maximize their productivity. Other sectors of the factories like power and utilities, HVAC system and packaging control are also dependent on the computers which place them at more risks of cybercrime.

Cyber Crime and Environmental Sustainability

How Cyber Crime can affect Environmental sustainability?

According to the Senior Vice President of Environmental, Liberty International Underwriter Mr. William Bell, It will be impossible to maintain the sustainability of the environment, if someone hacks the systems of a water treatment facility. If the hackers open the gets of the facility thousand tons of raw sewage will enter the local waters, thus causing an epidemic among the population.

In the year 2000, 800000 liters of untreated wastes have entered the waterways of the Maroochy Shire in Australia. In 2009, an IT contractor turned off the alarm system for leak detection in three oil rigs near Long Beach in Calif as he was not hired permanently by the company.

In 2015, a network of cyber hackers infiltrated a German steel company via a phishing scam. They manipulated the entire systems for production control and blast furnace. The furnaces could not be shut down and as a result, caused serious damage to the properties.

How Hackers can cause chaos?

Most of the industrial complexes contain a series of sensors that collect and monitor the data regarding the efficiency of the machines and the material flow that is processed. These sensors then send this data to the computer terminals that recognizes that data and converts it into a command for the elements like pumps, valves, and motors.

This information technology controls the pipeline flow, water levels, water present inside the reservoir, operations of the gates, and release or hold of bulk quantities of materials. Hackers who want to render harm to the environment would hijack tat system and will release toxic pollutants into the environment.


In the recent world, most of the digital technologies like the SCADA system, sensors, and other software run the industrial processes. Thus the risk of environmental assets due to system compromise of the oil, chemical, power, gas, and other critical infrastructures is real.

Organizations are more relying on machines than manpower which is increasing the vulnerability of cybercrime. Most of the centers are focused on protecting the data. But a cyber breach would cost much more than data and that is a dangerous environmental disaster claiming hundreds of innocent lives. The enterprises must be aware of the online threats and should include all the necessary precautionary measures to maintain a financially and environmentally sustainable business.

Also Read – Corporate Environmental Sustainability Strategy