Cyberwar Hits Home…Hard

I am going though withdrawal.  My hands are beginning to tremble uncontrollably.  Beads of sweat trickle down my forehead.  I am hot and uncomfortable.  Pacing around the house helps, but my mind remains restless.

If you haven’t heard, the PlayStation Network is down.  On Wednesday April 20th, 2011, the plugged was pulled after the discovery of a possible cyber attack.  For the past eight days, nobody has been able to enjoy the experience of online gaming.  For me, it is something like the dude from the Dos Equis beer commercials but a bit different.  “I don’t play video games often, but when I do, I prefer Call of Duty: Black Ops.”  A week without sniping, knifing, planting explosives, throwing explosives, shooting explosives, driving remote control cars strapped with explosives, crossbowing, reviving fallen comrades, calling in airstrikes, flying gunships…Well, you get the point.  I wonder if the 77 million people effected by this blackout are experiencing something similar.  From the PlayStation public statements, it could be another week or more before the technicians can solve this digital quagmire.  Is there anyone else asking, “Who the hell would do this and why?”

It could be for financial reasons.  It could be for obtaining information on customers.  It could be for bragging rights, but whatever the case may be, it got hacked.  I received an email from Sony today informing me of some awesome news(sarcasm).  No, the network won’t be back up.  It was a bit more concerning to me and I’m sure everyone else who received the same message.  The hacker or hackers have all the information about where I live, my name, and email, but that really doesn’t bother me.  What is bothersome is the fact that my credit card information was potentially stolen from the network.  So now that I have been informed by Sony to keep an eye on my bank statements, I gotta wonder why I ever bought (using my credit card on the PlayStation Network) those additional maps for Call of Duty: Black Ops?

It is now personal.  Someone stole from me.  No strange purchases have appeared on my statement as of yet, but the thought of whoever did this selling the numbers and information to whoever does want to use them to make purchases angers me.  I am for the first time victim of  cyber theft(that I know of).  I don’t think anyone can disagree with me that the future of warfare is going to take place behind a computer screen and not staring down the sights of a rifle.  I see this theft as having someone enter my home, open my wallet, pull out my credit card and write down all the information on it, put it back in my wallet, and walk out the door.  I must confess, if this were to be attempted tonight as I type, my firewall wouldn’t be hackable.

Realizing that cyber war is real and here to stay, I must look at previous and present hacks going on.  Other than the jerks who pulled this PlayStation Network hack off, has there ever been a good hack?  Lets look at Iran right now.  With their attempts at nuclear enrichment, it appears somebody thought this was not such a good idea and placed a worm into many of Iran’s industrial facilities.  This worm, or Stuxnet as it is known, has seriously damaged the Islamic Republics advancement toward nuclear capabilities.  For a nation that confesses it wants the United States and Israel wiped off the face of the earth, it’s probably not a good idea for them to achieve that capability.  That to me, was a noble hack by whomever.(Iran claims it was Israel)

China currently keeps a firewall over its citizens, known in the West as “The Great Firewall of China.”  It prevents outside websites such as the NY Times, Youtube, facebook, and twitter among others to reach the user in China.  This is to prevent the outside world to view what goes on throughout China, and more importantly to the Government, let the Chinese people see how the free world lives.  There are occasional breaks in the firewall, but the Chinese government is quick to patch them back up.  Why didn’t this hacker bring down the Chinese firewall?  Why not do something noble and be a true hero hacker?  If you are given this ability to write and design programs and do whatever you want with them, why not put them to good use instead of stealing credit card numbers for profit?  Everyday, United States government agencies are steadily under cyber attack.  Most of the hacks are traced back to somewhere in China, and after that little can be done.  A couple of years ago, the small Baltic country of Estonia was hacked bringing all major networks down.  The Estonians claim it was the Russian government who did it in effort to show the Estonians who’s still the boss of the area.

Cyber warfare isn’t going anywhere.  I believe that the next war may be fought over such a hack.  If a nation like China is able to hack through our defenses and obtain top-secret information on our military weapons, is that not a reason to go to war?  If they shut down our networks, essentially stalling our way of life, is that not a reason to go to war?  Think of it as something like how a naval blockade would work.  A blockade works by cutting off fresh supplies, essentially starving the opposing side into submission.  A network hack would work in the same way, stopping life and creating absolute chaos.  Since the world is relying more and more on computers, it becomes easier to disrupt our lives with one complex hack.  It is going to happen eventually, people are trying hard everyday to do it.

This minor hack(as of yet) that has effected my life opened my eyes to the real possibility of a massive hack interfering not with just 77 million users, but over 300 million.  Maybe it is a nice break for me though.  Instead of spend the two hours a night electronically slaying other people, I can find some other hobby to pick up.  In the meantime, I’ll be watching my bank statements looking out for bizarre purchases from some dark area of the earth.

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