Cyberattacks show your Internet dependance
An exclusive October 14 news article on NBCNews.com had the headline, CIA Prepping for Possible Cyber Strike Against Russia.” This quote centering on Vice President Joe Biden might lend credibility to the rather astonishing headline of cyberattacks:
Vice President Joe Biden told “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd on Friday that “we’re sending a message” to Putin and that “it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that will have the greatest impact.”
Former senior U.S. intelligence official, Sean Kanuck, noted after the spate of Russian backed leaks, that “not mounting a response would carry a cost. If you publicly accuse someone, and don’t follow it up with a responsive action, that may weaken the credible threat of your response capability.”
First Cyber War
So it is not totally shocking when two days later LinkedIN published an article by Shelly Palmer, CEO at The Palmer Group, titled Are We on the Brink of the First Cyber World War?” Shelly had cyberattacks in view.
Admittedly none of this is warm and fuzzy. Not something to read while curled up in front of the fire-place with your morning cup of coffee. However, with a view to avoiding a curl of another kind, it would be in our best interest to consider possibilities.
Palmer recites a list of recent cyberattacks and asks the question of the article title regarding the first cyber war. But he asks another pertinent question; a question more pertinent at this juncture than the supposition of cyberattacks. “Are you prepared to function offline?” Something worth considering. Here’s my personal experience.
Personal Dependency Experience
In August, I went to my nephew’s wedding in Anchorage. It was beautiful. Both Anchorage and the wedding. I had an extra day in Anchorage before heading home, and was able to use my nephew’s car. “Just park it at the airport, lock the keys in the car and let me know where it is.”
That sounded so simple. But are you customarily in the habit of locking the keys in the car? I am not! With lots of hesitation and after making sure my carry-on was with me, I decisively shut the locked car door with the keys safely hidden under the mat. Only then did I see my cell phone still happily charging away inside the locked car.
So what does one do? I had no phone and no phone numbers. Didn’t have my digital boarding pass. Couldn’t text for help. Couldn’t send an email. Couldn’t even call airport security. I went into the airport in search of one of those antiquated devices – a pay phone. I was surprised when the security person directed me to one. Of course, it didn’t work. Seriously!
So I walked a few yards to a military lounge where they allowed me to call Security. And what did Security do? They advised me to go to the cab line where doubtless there was someone who could gain access to the locked car. And they did. For $35!
But is this realistic?
While my solution was simple and relatively painless – I didn’t miss my flight – what would you do if you woke up on a Monday with the power completely out? No phone lines. Cell phone service gone and no ability to charge your phone. No Internet, no power, no water pressure, no traffic lights, no street lights, no basic social services. A full scale cyberattack?
This happened in New York City on Monday, October 29, 2012, when Hurricane Sandy swept through and left people in the New York Metro area and New Jersey completely without for a week. That storm caused $65 billion in damages in the US. Not the result of a cyberattack, but devestating.
While a cyberattack doesn’t bring the same kind of physical devestation that bombs have created recently in Aleppo or WWII Europe, still the devestation would be significant. Especially the longer it lasted.
Potential Points of Attack
Palmer details some of the possible cyberattacks that could create widespread panic and confusion:
- Your bank account – along with millions of others – zeroed to no balance.
- Your hard drive data erased.
- You credit card cancelled and is unreplaceable for weeks because millions of others have experienced the same loss.
- Information websites are unreachable due to massive attacks.
- Top health insurance providers lose massive amounts of patient records.
- Federal prison records erased or altered.
- The banks find billions in cash missing.
- The stock market unable to function or report a crash.
- NSA’s hacking tools put up for sale online.
“It probably won’t happen.” That’s what they say. Well, probably not. The probable attack would be, not on what we anticipate and have prepared for, but on something we’ve never thought of. Of course, the political side of things are not in the realm of a technical consideration. But cyberattacks need considering.
Technically, the simplest means of preparation – under the assumption that the power will come back – is a backup. It is difficult to imagine that a business would not prepare for this kind of business continuity, although I suppose anything is possible. But individually you may not know what solutions will help you avoid facing ransom demands, or losing data, your photos, your videos, your documents, your system.
The technical world is here to stay. Do you know how to stay alive under threat of cyberattacks?
October 21, 2016, saw a major cyberattack “around the world.” Major sites affected included PayPal, Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, Reddit and more. One headline read, “Attacks on the Internet Keep Getting Bigger and Nastier.”
This timely reality demands consideration of the question: How dependant are you on the Internet? Can your business survive an Internet down of a week? It happened four years ago – 2012 saw one of the first major Internet downs. How would you handle the loss? Are you prepared?