It's about matters far worse.
A major factor in my novel Fools' Experiments (2008) was a hostile entity -- in this case, an artificial intelligence -- wreaking havoc on the physical world via the Internet. Born to cyberspace, the AI didn't understand the physical world, but -- justifiably ticked off, for reasons I won't go into here -- it undertook to compromise networked resources that it found to be well-protected. Someone obviously valued them.
If only network-accessible resources were well protected ...
Fast-forward merely three years. From PC Magazine: "Illinois Water Utility Pump Destroyed After Hack." On the same incident, also see, from Physorg.com: "Foreign cyber attack hits US infrastructure: expert."
And the SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) interface that provided the hacker with access to the physical-world pump? SCADA devices are common things -- widely at risk, at least in principle, to more such meddling.
It's not only the US, of course, that's under attack. Consider (from Yahoo News) that "Norway hit by major data-theft attack." Modern economies run on energy. We're told that:
At least 10 different attacks, mostly aimed at the oil, gas, energy and defense industries, were discovered in the past year, but the agency said it has to assume the number is much higher because many victims have yet to realize that their computers have been hacked.Virus infects Pentagon drones' computers"?
It's not clear whether the virus was deliberately aimed at the military computers or whether it got there through the general spread of infectious malware, but "the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech's computers," Wired reported, citing three unnamed sources. (Aside: that's Creech AFB in Nevada.)Not very reassuring, is that? Especially when:
Also unclear is whether the keylogger software has revealed any secure data. But it is running on classified computer networks, Wired said.
Wired reported that the virus was discovered two weeks ago and that the virtual pilots continue to run missions from the Air Force base.Last for today, but certainly not least, consider this lengthy report from The Wall Street Journal: "Document Trove Exposes Surveillance Methods." The WSJ's reporter visited a trade show for commercial systems with which governments and law enforcement agencies can hoover up and examine vast quantities of electronic communications.
At the Washington and Dubai trade conferences this year, which are generally closed to the public, Journal reporters were prevented by organizers from attending sessions or entering the exhibition halls. February's Dubai conference took place at a time of widespread unrest elsewhere in the region. Nearly 900 people showed up, down slightly because of the regional turmoil, according to an organizer.
Presentations in Dubai included how to intercept wireless Internet traffic, monitor social networks and track cellphone users. "All of the companies involved in lawful intercept are trying to sell to the Middle East," said Simone Benvenuti, of RCS SpA, an Italian company that sells monitoring centers and other "interception solutions," mostly to governments. He declined to identify any clients in the region.
Vupen, which gave a presentation at the conference on "exploiting computer and mobile vulnerabilities for electronic surveillance," said its tools take advantage of security holes in computers or cellphones that manufacturers aren't yet aware of. Vupen's marketing documents describe its researchers as "dedicated" to finding "unpatched vulnerabilities" in software created by Microsoft Corp., Apple Inc. and others. On its website, the company offered attendees a "free Vupen exploit sample" that relied on an already-patched security hole.
(And with that cheery thought, I'll wish a Happy Thanksgiving to my US readers.