Pop culture since the late 80-ies is preparing us to the fact that hackers can destroy the world, or at least cause substantial damage.
For example, in the second “the Matrix,” Trinity launched an actual exploit to turn off the lights in half the city. In the fourth “die Hard” former government agent tried with hacker attacks to destroy the us government and steal the Federal reserve. A recent report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) suggests that this could happen in real life.
Last week residents and guests of the Hawaiian Islands has experienced a 37 minute panic because of an error office employee. During the incident, and the hours after it the whole region was in a daze as shops, banks and transport was intermittent. If this can happen by mistake, imagine what can hackers with the necessary tools and defined goals.
According to the Report on global risks for the year 2018 from the WEF, in the next 5 years cybercriminals will be the main threat after extreme weather events and natural disasters. The report referred to two hacking campaign, which caused enormous damage in 2017.
The first of these WannaCry struck a minimum of 300 000 devices in more than 150 countries, including the computers of government organizations. The second campaign with the help of the virus Petya last year paralyzed the banks, the airport and other important elements of infrastructure of Ukraine, including Chernobyl. The virus acted like extortionists (ransomware), requiring the system owner to pay $300 in bitcoins, but the cyber security experts believe that its main aim was damage.
Although most of Petya affected Ukraine, they were also infected systems at the enterprises in Russia (“Sberbank”, “Rosneft”, “Bashneft”) and in many other countries of Europe.
The WEF experts believe that such attacks will only become more frequent. Certain theses of the report:
— In the worst case, attackers can cause a system failure required the public.
— Cyber criminals exponentially increase the number of potential targets… through the use of cloud services… and the fact that in 2020, the work of 20.4 billion devices the Internet of things.
— What used to be considered a large-scale attack, becomes the norm.
Specialist WEP also considered the scenario of cyber warfare is war between countries in which “there are no rules”. The world has not yet established international rules of cyberwar, so the effect of cyber attacks can be very different and damage can occur where you least expect them.