Security Corner

Jun 29 2012   12:44AM GMT

Looking Back: Will You Be Used As a Weapon Against Your Own Country?



Posted by: Ken Harthun
Tags:
Cyber weapon
Security

[I first posted this piece in June of 2007. In light of the Stuxnet attacks and Flame Malware attacks, I believe I was on the right track. It’s fun to look back and see how close we often come to predicting the future.]

It’s 2010, maybe sooner. A rogue nation has just declared war on your country. No one will be killed in this war, at least not directly. But people will die from starvation, disease, and in the general chaos caused by disruption in vital communications lines. The rogue nation’s primary weapon? Botnets capable of taking down huge segments of the Internet and telephone networks.

Such a weapon is already being used in cyber attacks against Estonian web sites, as reported by SANS:

The ongoing cyber attacks against Estonian web sites, covered
in a recent NewsBites edition should serve as a sobering reminder that Cyber Warfare is not a theoretical threat but a very effective and real one….

Having made my own observation of the shifting threats to computer and network security, I have to agree with SANS editor Skoudis:

Before 2003, our dominant threats were hobbyists and insiders. In 2003 and 2004, the threat then changed to organized crime looking to make money. Depending on the geopolitical environment, the dominant threat may shift again, and very quickly, to state-sponsored cyber warfare.

What’s ironic is that the attacker will, to some degree, be using your own people–as well as your allies–against you. There’s certainly a good number of people in every country whose computers have become zombies in a botnet. The actual attackers are virtually untraceable, so unless the attacker makes himself known, you’ll not even know your enemy. Scary.

This is why every citizen, every government, must share responsibility in protecting the security of their country’s network infrastructure. There are steps everyone can and should take…

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