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The Cyberwar is Coming

// Posted by on 05/28/2015 (4:20 PM)

 

I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for… Read more

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I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for the next great wars, and their arguments are all terribly logical and believable. The experts all say that we’re starting to see signs of this now. For example, “last summer, Isis accused the Turkish government in Ankara, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of deliberately holding back the Euphrates through a series of dams on its territory, lowering water levels in Lake Assad by a record six metres. Isis was apoplectic.”

However, after reading “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History,” I really started thinking that maybe wars over water will be undermined by directed malware wars. With Stuxnet, as noted in “The Code War,” the way it worked was “not unlike the enriched uranium the Iranians were working on, but in software form: expensive, highly refined munitions that formed the core of an extremely sophisticated weapons system.”

Attacks like these could very well lead to the next great wars. They are “unobtrusive, can be constant, and they’re invasive. “As the reading shows, these attacks have already started. If Iran had retaliated, or retaliates, what will it look like? Developers designed malware with the ability to tap into Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and alter the speed at which they work. What’s keeping someone or a government from exploiting that ability to an apocalyptic end? Why not? If we can, we should, right? If malware this mischievous can be created and unleashed it in the name of data gathering, sabotage, spying, whatever – and something goes wrong, what kind of collateral damage will there be? As we read, with Stuxnet, there were some friendly fire (assuming that there were some infections in the country(ies) responsible for the attack) accidents. Computers worldwide were infected – even some in the US. “The victims bleed personal data and intellectual property.”

What sectors in the US have unique vulnerabilities like the one exploited in Iran? Likely a lot! Everything is automated these days. Everything is a computer or has a computer. Even the business card dropped off by a bulk water sales rep today had a computer in it.

The image doesn’t do it justice, so here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlayQjxDm0I&feature=youtu.be

Could Diamond Springs unleash malware into this guy’s business card and sabotage his operation? It has a USB port. This item likely has a variety of weaknesses.

Additionally, should the U.S. be using these methods for domestic data gathering? Whether or not they should be, they do. In the example laid out in “The Code War,” with Freedom Hosting, they acquired a warrant and implanted surveillance software.  In doing so, broke up a huge child pornography operation. This is good. However, if the FBI, CIA, NSA, ABCDEFG want to do the same to my computer because I visited a site of an organization critical of the American government, is that right? No. To answer my above question, no, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. These attacks aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Edward Snowden reveled that “the NSA budget included $25.1 million for “additional covert purchases of software vulnerabilities,” suggesting that they both buy zero-days and roll out their own internally.”


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Updates on Stuxnet

// Posted by on 02/28/2012 (3:26 PM)

Last week, we read a Wired article about Stuxnet and the havoc that it wreaked on Iran’s nuclear program. Although Stuxnet was found over a year ago and has since been removed from these computers, new information has come… Read more

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Last week, we read a Wired article about Stuxnet and the havoc that it wreaked on Iran’s nuclear program. Although Stuxnet was found over a year ago and has since been removed from these computers, new information has come out about it within just the past couple weeks.

 

Here is a video demonstration on how Stuxnet works:

While many, including this article in Computerworld, called Stuxnet the best malware ever, new research has come out to say that this may not be the case for much longer. In a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, recent research demonstrates that Stuxnet was just the beginning of a long line of malware that has specific targets and missions and can bypass all forms of detection. According to the article, there are going to be more examples of malware that have the possibility of being much more dangerous than Stuxnet was.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Fox News reported that Iran stated that 16,000 computers were attacked. Although it is unclear whether this was worldwide or just in Iran, either way, that is a large number of computers that were attacked and no one knew for a long time.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Stuxnet is awesome in the way that it is specifically targeted and can evade detection. It has been a break-through piece of malware that is incredible in its capabilities and ability to avoid detection and in the hands of people using it for good, it can be so beneficial. However, I can’t help but think what could happen if people start using this kind of attack for not-so-altruistic missions. A specific, pointed attack could be dangerous and cause serious harm to a number of vital industries in just the United States. An attack on the power grid, on air traffic controllers, or any number of other industries would not only be dangerous, but detrimental to our economy and our way of life. While I trust that these industries are protected as much as they can be (maybe I’m just being naive), I bet that the Iranians felt that their systems were secure. I believe it is the fact that I feel so defenseless against such an attack that makes me worried.

Are you worried about a possible attack on America? Do you think this is a possibility or am I just worried for nothing?


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Iran: Even More of a Danger

// Posted by on 01/31/2012 (9:58 PM)

When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently… Read more

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When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently now a new threat to the United States. While nuclear weapons are a clear danger to our infrastructure and our cities, an attack on our networks could arguably create even more damage. Many hackers have been attacking U.S. networks recently, but simply for fun; however, if a country attacked us to wreak havoc, the devastation is imaginable. You can read the whole article here.


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