Saturday, January 17, 2015

Cyber Attacks...They're Getting More Dangerous

Forty years ago there was no such thing as cell phones, social media, and the internet.  We all had things to worry about back then, of course, but the range of worries was rather small--money, the weather, family, work, medical issues.  That's about all.  These days the number of things we need to worry about has grown exponentially.

With the advent of social media and the internet, suddenly problems half way around the world have become our problems.  Also with social media and the internet, no matter how prepared you keep yourself and your family, some idiot in a cyber cafe in a third world country can start World War III with a bit of hacking.  Here's some things to consider:

  • There was a recent cyber attack on a German steel company that caused massive damage.  Not only did this damage the business but imagine the ripple effects--people out of work, steel orders unable to be fulfilled, less economic activity in the area affected because people aren't going out and buying new TVs and new vehicles if they don't even have a job to go to, etc.
  • The Sony hacking scandal had world wide repercussions as people pondered how a hacker (or hackers) could bring an economic powerhouse to a dead stop.  Suddenly, because of the massive embarrassment caused by the release of hacked emails, a multi-million dollar movie wasn't going to be released.  It brought into focus the intersection of corporate decision making, free speech, and the power of one, or a few, people to make the decision about what kind of media the public can or can't see.
  • If I were wearing a necessary-for-life medical device, I would be worried.  Hackers now have ways to hack into these devices and the outcome with a concerted hacking effort could be deadly for many, many people.
  • The recent mass murder at Charlie Hebdo in France once again throws free speech, religious fanaticism, and social media into the blender and out comes the ability of a small minority to cause panic on a world-wide scale.  Now, with the click of a mouse, a group of people can recruit and direct people all over the globe to perform acts of terrorism and mass murder.
  • And then there was the recent hack that announced World War III had begun on what are considered reputable Twitter feeds.  Knowing how people are likely to react first and ask questions later, this could have ended very badly.
  • Then there was the ode to knee jerk reactions which started the whole "hands up, don't shoot" movement.  Immediately after the Michael Brown shooting, the social media universe jumped on the bandwagon to portray police as crazed killers and this poor black teenager as a victim who had his hands up in surrender and got shot anyway.  So major sports stars and TV personalities were throwing their hands up in support of a "victim" who had actually just committed an armed robbery and tried to murder a cop. 
  • Finally, while many of the above issues may have little actually to do with you, there are the hacking events that can affect you directly such as the Target hack which hit a lot of everyday citizens where they lived including yours truly.  Shortly after this event I went to Target to buy a couple of TVs and my debit card was refused there.  When I called my bank to figure out what was going on they said they were not allowing any charges at Target for the immediate future.  Good thing I always carry cash on me but what would happen if someone was trying to buy food before a major storm, they didn't have any cash, and due to a hack, their perfectly good bank card was rejected?
These are just a few of the ways that the world can intrude into your perfectly ordered universe and cause quite a bit of headaches--if not more serious damage--at the click of a mouse.

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