A major cyber attack is coming! Soon…ish

30 Oct 2014

A major cyber attack is coming! Soon...ish

In the 2012th year there was internet security ambivalence, and then there was light. On the back of relentless data security breaches and revelations in the past 18 months, a major cyber attack is due.

According to the Pew Research Centre in the US, experts fear a major cyber attack that will cause widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people within the next 11 years – start stocking up on tins of beans, people.

After canvassing 1,642 “experts and internet builders” Pew’s results found that 61pc of people fear some form of cyber catastrophe. Some observed that the internet’s expansion will multiply vulnerabilities of both tangible and intangible objects. Tim Kambitsch, an activist internet user, wrote, “The internet of things is just emerging. In the future, control of physical assets, not just information, will be open to cyber attack.”

Of course a lot of this is no major surprise any more. Edward Snowden’s attorney Ben Wizner recently lamented the broad spectrum of spying options available for states and companies. On a recent visit to Dublin, Wizner warned the technologies we use today, whether it is Facebook or just the mobile phone in your pocket, all form part of an elaborate spy system.

“Your phone is no longer your phone, it is a tracker device. Hundreds of companies are trying to track and sell information to each other. The open road used to suggest freedom, now you are tracked everywhere you go by cameras and sensors,” he said.

No Defence To Cyber Attacks

Only last week Joel Brenner, a former inspector general and senior counsel of the National Security Agency, wrote of cyber threats in the Washington Post. “Companies cannot adequately protect their own networks, and neither can the government,” he said, in an article rather worryingly entitled ‘Nations everywhere are exploiting the lack of cybersecurity’.

“The Internet was not built for security, yet we have made it the backbone of virtually all private-sector and government operations, as well as personal communications. Pervasive connectivity has brought dramatic gains in productivity and pleasure but has created equally dramatic vulnerabilities.”

The realisation that we’re pretty much open to breaches all over the place is not lost on Homeland Security in the US who, somewhat ironically it must be said, are currently espousing ‘National Cyber Security Awareness Month’, “designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident.”

This is on the back of some quite revealing state versus state events in the past few months. Back in May, for example, the US indicted five Chinese military hackers for cyber espionage against US corporations and a labour organisations. In a landmark case, an FBI director went as far as saying, “For too long, the Chinese government has blatantly sought to use cyber espionage to obtain economic advantage for its state-owned industries.”

“This 21st century burglary has to stop,” said David Hickton, US Attorney for the western district of Pennsylvania, at the time.

Cyber attack image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic