Stuxnet hints at the future of cyberwarfare

The year is 2015 and you want to take over or destroy a country.

Let’s examine the options-

  • Launch a Nuclear Attack – Effective but has the drawback that retaliation will thrust all of mankind into obliteration.
  • Build a traditional Army – Expensive and time consuming

or…

Use cyber warfare to disrupt your enemy’s financial markets, disable their weapon systems, handicap their ability to provide electricity and water, wait 72 hours and show up with water pistols and take control.tin-foil-hat-3

This may seem like the start of a cheap sci-fi novel or tin foil hat conspiracy theory but this is the not-so-distant future of warfare.

CNET reported today, “Symantec researchers have figured out a key mystery to the Stuxnet worm code that strongly suggests it was designed to sabotage a uranium enrichment facility.”

If you aren’t familiar with Stuxnet, it is a nasty bit of code that made big waves in the security industry this past summer by targeting “specialized industrial control equipment”. Specialized as in nuclear facilities in Iran.

It doesn’t take a genius to do the math. Sophisticated code targeting Iranian nuclear assets = some nation’s cyberwar beta test.

The Truth is what the Computers say it is

Do you remember what happened to the U.S. stock market this past May during the flash crash? A single typo trade and the entire market bounced 20% in 15 minutes.

Would you be bothered by the fact that US Senate computers were compromised by Chinese hackers? (in 2009 no less).

Want a better glimpse of what this might look like? Take a look at what happened to Estonia in 2007.

World War 2.0–The botnet that took down Estonia

Literally in the middle of writing this post my friend @scepticgeek shared this article, “Cyber Experts Have Proof That China Has Hijacked U.S.-Based Internet Traffic

For 18 minutes in April, China’s state-controlled telecommunications company hijacked 15 percent of the world’s Internet traffic, including data from U.S. military, civilian organizations and those of other U.S. allies…

…In short, the Chinese could have carried out eavesdropping on unprotected communications — including emails and instant messaging — manipulated data passing through their country or decrypted messages, Dmitri Alperovitch, vice president of threat research at McAfee said.

18 minutes!! Holy Smokes.

Takeaway

I hesitated at even publishing this post because it isn’t my intention to scare you but to make you aware that our complete dependence on technology has some serious ramifications.

I wish I had some brilliant insight or light hearted conclusion but the fact is I hope the 3 letter agencies in Virginia and our allies are better at cyber security than they are at finding underwear bombers.

‘till next time here’s your tin foil hat

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