Not long ago, someone caught hacking someone else’s computer was offered immunity from prosecution, if he agreed to help the local police nab other hackers.
Nowadays, the Pentagon has regular schools teaching young and talented people such an art in order to become recruits for special cyberwarfare units, now another arm of our armed forces.
It is safe to say, that during the outbreak of a major international war, the first salvo will not be from nuclear-tipped missiles, but from hacking and disabling an adversary’s communication systems through malware to paralyze or destroy an enemy’s infrastructure and industry.
Such deliberate destruction actually happened on Dec. 25 and 28, 2014, when all of North Korea’s 3G communication and Internet services went dead.
The key word here is accessible, which means control systems that are connected to the Internet. Of course, today, just about every system relies on interconnected computers in one way or another.
All critical process control systems in industry, power distribution or vital government systems should be disconnected from public Internet systems. The Chinese army, for example, runs its own network and servers in order to avoid hacking.
Maybe it's time to disconnect some highly sensitive areas of industry — a refinery, for example. Remember, no Internet, no hacking!
We already see the beginnings of what might happen in terms of cyberwarfare. We read almost daily about cyberattacks on banks and even military installations. While some of these are profit motivated, or a form of spying, they also may be a part of probing the defenses of potential adversaries.
Countries such as Russia, China, the United States, and to a lesser extend Israel, Iran, and North Korea are suspected of having done so. Another strategy is to install special “bugs” into key software portions of a potential enemy’s equipment.
In case of war, these bugs will be activated by a command system to disable computer systems. This is akin to having “sleeper cells” of espionage agents in foreign countries, which will be activated in case of needs.
We already know of instances where such cybersabotage has occurred. In July of 2007, a massive cyberattack by unknown parties paralyzed Estonia’s key power infrastructure.
The interruption of services lasted several weeks and caused severe economic damage and social turmoil.
In another instance, a computer worm called “Stuxnet” was found in an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, disabling about one-fifth of all centrifuges. A similar thing also happened again in Iran, where a similar worm was imbedded in process control equipment supplied by the German Siemens company, which almost destroyed an atomic power plant.
Hans Baumann is a licensed engineer in four states and a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. He is an adviser to the dean of the University of New Hampshire Business School. Baumann has published manuals on valves and was a contributor to many works including the "Instrument Engineers' Handbook" and the "Control Valves Handbook." He has also published several books on business management and German history. His book "Hitler's Fate," suggests that Adolf Hitler did not commit suicide and survived World War II. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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