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March 14, 2024

OWSD Nigeria University of PortHarcourt Branch Series of Scientific Communications: Martha O. Musa on THE IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON CYBERSECURITY: EXPLORING THE INTERCONNECTIONS

The Impact of Climate Change on Cybersecurity: Exploring the Interconnections


Dr. Martha O. Musa

  1. Introduction

Currently, we are experiencing a period in human history where digital technologies have been extensively embraced and incorporated into various aspects of culture, society, and everyday life. The digital age, also known as the Information Age or the Computer period, is defined by the increasing importance of digital information, electronic communication, and computing technology. This era represents a significant shift from the previous industrial period.

The characteristics of this age include digital technologies (such as computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices that process, store, and transmit information in digital form), internet connectivity, data and information, social media and networking, e-commerce and online transactions, digital entertainment, automatic and artificial intelligence, mobile computing, digital literacy, and rapid technological innovation. These factors have exerted a significant impact on the manner in which individuals, corporations, and communities function. With the advancement of digital technology, issues over online privacy, data breaches, and cyber threats have emerged as major challenges. Consequently, cybersecurity and privacy have become unavoidable topics of discussion.

The prefix "cyber" indicates a relationship with the digital or virtual domain, typically associated with computers, networks, and electronic communication. Security refers to the condition of being protected against assaults, risks, and all types of peril. Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting digital data, computer networks, and systems from potential damage, loss, or unauthorised entry. Cybersecurity methods and procedures are used to achieve information technology infrastructure protection.

Climate change is a widely discussed subject in the contemporary world. Climate change refers to the enduring adjustments in the Earth's weather patterns, including changes in temperature, precipitation (rainfall), wind patterns, and other atmospheric characteristics. While natural processes have influenced temperature fluctuations throughout Earth's history, the term "climate change" is commonly used to describe the significant changes observed in recent decades, particularly those linked to human activities. Factors such as scientific consensus, global impact, increased frequency of extreme events, youth activism, media coverage, corporate and institutional commitments, international agreements, public awareness and education, economic considerations, and environmental justice and equity are all contributing to the increased attention given to climate change.

Examining the links between cybersecurity and climate change is essential for several reasons, as it improves our comprehension of the intersections and potential difficulties that arise from the interaction of these complex and dynamic phenomena. The focus of this research is to investigate and analyze the subject matter.


  1. The Interconnections between Climate Change and Cybersecurity

Examining the correlation between climate change and cybersecurity is crucial for formulating comprehensive approaches that tackle the difficulties originating from these interrelated matters. This technology allows for preventive actions to improve the ability to recover quickly, protect important systems, and reduce the potential dangers related to the changing climate and cyber environment. These are some of the connections:

  1. Crucial Infrastructure’s Susceptibility:  Hurricanes, floods, and wildfires are instances of extreme weather phenomena that may increase in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change. These events have the potential to cause harm or disruption to critical infrastructure, including water supply systems, communication networks, and energy grids. An instance of internet outages occurred in 2012 as a result of the destruction of crucial data centres caused by Hurricane Sandy. In addition, the 2018 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami caused significant damage to subterranean cables, resulting in the disruption of mobile networks, internet connectivity, and banking operations. To assess and enhance the ability of critical infrastructure to withstand future cyber threats, it is crucial to fully understand the risks that arise from climate change.
  2. Supply Chain Problems: Especially for industries that rely on electricity, basic materials, and transportation. Businesses adopt innovative technology or seek alternative suppliers in response to supply chain disruptions to maintain their present production capacity. Cybercriminals can exploit these changes by exploiting newly created weaknesses in the supply chain. For example, the floods that occurred in Thailand in 2011 compelled numerous firms to transition to other suppliers for their hardware requirements and resulted in the cessation of hard drive production.
  3. Increased Cyberattack Frequency During Catastrophes: Instances of hacking are more prone to happen during and following climate-related occurrences. Malicious individuals have the potential to exploit vulnerabilities in defences, chaos, and diversion. Analysing this correlation helps identify potential patterns and risks associated with cyberattacks following climate-related events. As an illustration, the prevalence of remote work surged at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and has persisted up to the present time. Remote work introduces new security vulnerabilities, including the use of insecure home networks and personal devices for corporate purposes. 
  4. Cloud Computing Challenges: The increasing temperatures caused by climate change pose challenges for cloud computing and data center infrastructures. Increased temperatures increase the probability of equipment faults and disruptions in operations, making these facilities more susceptible to cyberattacks. Moreover, the widespread adoption of cloud computing services by many businesses to reduce their environmental impact has necessitated the need to tackle novel risks and vulnerabilities specific to the cloud.
  5. Green Technology Adoption: The relationship between green technology and cybersecurity stems from the increasing integration of digital solutions and connectivity in sustainable and ecologically friendly projects. The increasing reliance of green technology on digital infrastructure, data management, and networked equipment presents additional cybersecurity considerations and challenges. The interconnection between green technology and cybersecurity can be observed through various means such as Smart Grid Infrastructures, Renewable Energy Management Systems, Smart Buildings and IoT Devices, Electrical Vehicles and Charging Infrastructures, Environmental Monitoring Systems, Precision Agriculture, Supply Chain Management, Water Management Systems, and Circular Economy Platforms.
  6. Social Engineering: The occurrence of social engineering tends to increase during a pandemic. Pandemics frequently arise as a consequence of climate change. During the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals received malicious emails with links and files to download. These emails falsely claimed to be from reputable organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and other healthcare institutes. They sought donations for charitable organisations, provided immunisation kits and tests, and gave support in combating COVID-19. Indeed, their objectives were to pilfer bank account information, login credentials, and personal data.
  7. Impact on Environmental Systems: Given the prevalence of digital environmental monitoring and control systems, cybersecurity is crucial for safeguarding the environment. To prevent hostile attacks that could disrupt the collection, processing, and response systems for environmental data, it is important to ensure their safety. Cyber threats possess the capacity to induce alterations in data, unauthorized entry, or even the complete cessation of critical environmental systems. The consequences of this include erroneous environmental data, challenges in managing pollutants, and the potential for environmental disasters. Instances have occurred in which hackers have specifically aimed at energy networks and water treatment plants, so posing a significant hazard to public safety and the environment.


  1. Addressing the Interconectedness inTerms of Challanges Posed and Solutions

The importance of cybersecurity will continue to increase as climate change and the digitalization of environmental systems progress. To tackle the difficulties posed by the interconnection of climate change and cybersecurity, it is necessary to implement comprehensive solutions. A few of these options are outlined below:

  1. Holistic Risk Assessments: Conduct comprehensive risk assessments that integrate cybersecurity risks with climate-related concerns. This will ensure a thorough understanding of any weaknesses and assist in developing flexible reactions.
  2. Cross-Sector Collaboration: Promote collaboration among lawmakers, cybersecurity experts, and environmental authorities. Facilitate cooperative endeavors and cross-disciplinary investigations to efficiently address interconnected issues.
  3. Resilient Infrastructure Development: Allocate resources towards the development of resilient infrastructure designs that are capable of withstanding both cyberattacks and incidents associated with climate change. When designing and strategizing crucial infrastructure, it is important to consider cybersecurity measures and use adaptive technologies.
  4. Data Security and Privacy: When developing environmental monitoring systems, consider privacy and data security as the utmost importance. Protect valuable information from online dangers by implementing user authentication, safe data storage, and encryption.
  5. Public Awareness and Education: Disseminate knowledge to the general population regarding the interconnected problems of cybersecurity and climate change. Promote the dissemination of information regarding cybersecurity best practices, climate resilience, and sustainable practices.
  6. Policy Integration: Establish and integrate policies that address the issues of cybersecurity and climate change. Ensure that regulations and standards consider the interconnectedness of digital security and environmental sustainability.
  7. Invest in Innovation: Encourage the exploration and development of innovative technologies that address both cybersecurity challenges and climate change simultaneously. Promote initiatives that explore the integration of sustainability and digital security.


  1. Conclusion

A comprehensive and flexible strategy is needed to address how cybersecurity and climate change are intertwined. Solutions from many disciplines and sectors should be integrated to improve sustainability, increase resilience, and lessen the risks brought on by the intricate interactions between various problems.




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