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04 Jan 13 Cyberwar: The A-Bomb of the Future?

Forget about nuclear warheads, genetically mutated strains of viruses, and other weapons of mass destruction capable of wiping out entire civilizations; it seems that the next big war will be fought completely behind the scenes through the Internet. Okay, maybe it’s not a good idea to completely forget about those things, as they are still quite frightening, but recent events and evidence do point to cyberattacks as the next big thing in world ravaged by war. Unfortunately, taking the violence to the virtual world is just as likely to result in countless innocent lives loss as any other method of war.

Fighting War on the Digital Frontier: Methods of Attack

With more and more devices connecting to the internet- the number is expected to reach into the trillions this year- and just about every type of infrastructure tied to computers somehow, there are many potential ways to attack a country through cyberspace. A few of the biggest threats include:

  • Attacking the power grid. We’ve already seen- through movies and real life- what knocking out the power to a particular area can do. Imagine plummeting the entire East Coast- home to at least 9 of the top 25 most dangerous cities in the US- into complete darkness for an undetermined amount of time. Even a single night may be enough to completely destroy thousands of businesses and lives. Looting and widespread panic along an entire seaboard can do far more harm than a single bomb aimed at a single city, and all it would take is the right code into the right system.
  • Attacks on banks. Let’s face it, money, not love, makes the world go round. Without money, we don’t have roofs over our heads, food in our stomach, or clothes on our backs. Attacking the money of a nation is pretty much the same thing as attacking the citizens themselves. Banks are pretty much completely reliant on computers to keep track of how much money is in all their accounts. Wipe out those computers, and you essentially bankrupt the nation. As a bonus, attackers can write code to redirect the funds into their own accounts, given them more of the precious green substance to buy bigger and badder weapons.
  •  Attacks on nuclear facilities. For the old-school tyrants who still miss the Cold War and threat of a nuclear apocalypse, attacking a nuclear facility can be even more deadly than sending a nuclear bomb via special delivery…and far more cost effective. Building a nuclear bomb takes money, time, and resources that many smaller nations just don’t have. Plus, with the UN watching the movements of rogue nations, it’s not exactly easy to fly under the radar. Attacking a nuclear power facility and causing the reactor to blow, on the other hand, takes far less money and effort.

Of course, there are many other potential avenues of attack that could be used in a cyberwar, and all of them are equally as scary as a weapon of mass destruction. Building a strong cyber defense is becoming more important than ever before.

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