Cyber war sounds like something from an Orson Wells radio program. Unfortunately, it’s a reality. In just the past couple of years we’ve seen everything from Stuxnet taking out refinement facilities in Iran to hackers bringing down 30,000 computers at a Saudi oil firm.
|Image courtesy of U.S. Naval War College|
What’s the world to do?
In the United States’ case, it’s hiring around 4,000 experts to quintuple the size of the US Cyber Command. That’s a pretty serious escalation. Granted, it’s certainly the right move.
For years now, security experts, including outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have warned of impending cyber attacks targeting critical infrastructure in the United States like power grids. The right attack could be devastating.
"We've got good people that are involved in it, but, very frankly," he said in November speech at a defence (sic – silly Brits) think tank, "if we're going to stay on the cutting edge of what's happening with regards to the changes that are occurring, we have got to invest more in that area." [BBC]
But the offensive side of the US Cyber Command is talked about a little less. The fact is, a large portion of the revamped command will be responsible for designing and executing attacks overseas. Targets are expected to include Russia, China, and Iran, among others.
We have no idea how this digital arms race is going to play out, but you can be sure, that, globally, collateral damage will include civilians. Now, more than ever, is the time to beef up your digital security. Use strong passwords, download an antivirus program, and encrypt your digital data with a VPN.