I agree. With computer hacking, timing is critical. In military time, let's say for air defense, the attacking planes have to be ready to go, if not in the air already. But with a power blackout, mid-winter would suffice, and exacerbate the problem many times over.
Right, and I think we could safely anticipate casualties, and indeed fatalities, in the case of something like a national black-out lasting a week or more. Maybe not thousands, but there would be deaths. Quite a lot if it coincided with extreme weather (and we do get plenty of extreme weather these days).
I remember large power outages before mobile phones, and mostly people just stood around waiting for the power to be restored. Some might deal with immediate emergencies, but almost nobody had any way to contribute toward eventual recovery. In a successful cyber attack, most peoples' communications would be out -- no usable mobile phones. And we have had no experience with power outages over large areas lasting for months or more.
Hiroshima could never have recovered on its own -- and probably not New Orleans after Katrina, either. In both cases there was an outside to go to, and where aid could be organized and come from. A cyber attack could affect huge areas, greatly reducing the presence of an outside. And we now have hairtrigger just-in-time inventory systems, and about two days' worth of groceries and other necessities in the stores (which would sell out instantly, if they were even open).
It is appalling that the U.S. tolerates the cyber insecurities it has -- such as hundreds of bugs in every operating system (judged by the pace of fixes), and millions of malware bots in our computers at all times, awaiting criminal commands.
Let's wake up before the likely disasters, not after.
I think that a digital attack on the United States' critical infrastructure assets would cause major problems in the event of some kind of conflict. We are a very advanced country with a powerful military, but we rely quite heavily on an outdated electrical system and a inefficient digital backbone that is screaming for more bandwidth. I am concerned that it might not take much to cripple our economy and weaken us for a military attack.
@mhhfive, isnt it possible to make it operable again by re-installing the Operating system because I have never heard of any case where the system was totally made inoperable.
It depends on the attack. For example, Stuxnet specifically targeted hardware in a way that destroyed the hardware itself. Re-installing an operating system won't help if malware has caused critical hardware components to overheat/melt or otherwise be physically destroyed.
CPUs are regulated by software, and it's possibe that corrupted software could tell CPUs to run at dangerously high temperatures... or tell hard drives to spin too fast... or somehow get lithium batteries to explode and catch fire.... turning your computer on/off three times and re-installing the OS is not going to help much if your laptop is a smoldering lump of metal and plastic.
I'm not sure it's such a bad analogy, especially since the attack was unexpected and unprepared for. Of course, people might assume that a cyberattack wouldn't result in 2,000 fatalities. But I'm not sure we really know that: it depends what kind of cyberattack it is.
All, I have received a few emails saying that comparing cyber attacks to Pearl Harbor is always a bad idea. I agree that it may seem too dramatic for a good analogy. What do you think? Does it wind up doing more harm than good? What is a better analogy?
Good point. I think a determined effort by hackers could probably keep specific, even important computers offline for quite a while. And then there is scale - conficker now comprises over 10 million bots.
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