Technology is fragile. Hard drives crash, smartphones need cases and even the most skilled coders can write software that contains gaping holes. If you think about it, it’s almost as if we’ve replaced the iron and steel of the industrial revolution with a modern world constructed of delicate eggshells. Not long ago, Mort Zuckerman shared in the Wall Street Journal what the elements of a cyber war might look like. In his words, a hacker/terrorist, “can tap into our computer networks and move money, spill oil, vent gas, blow up generators, derail trains, crash airplanes, cause missiles to detonate, and wipe out reams of financial and supply chain data.”
In fact, President Obama recently had this to say on the subject in a recent opinion post in the Wall Street Journal: “So far, no one has managed to seriously damage or disrupt our critical infrastructure networks. But foreign governments, criminal syndicates and lone individuals are probing our financial, energy and public safety systems every day. Last year, a water plant in Texas disconnected its control system from the Internet after a hacker posted pictures of the facility’s internal controls. More recently, hackers penetrated the networks of companies that operate our natural-gas pipelines. Computer systems in critical sectors of our economy—including the nuclear and chemical industries—are being increasingly targeted.”
Personally, I find myself wondering what would happen if a large tech company like Google or even Facebook, which has access to so much information about people, went bankrupt? In such a scenario, could the assets be sold off to the highest bidder? Where would that information end up? All your private information, from passwords to private searches could end up in the the wrong hands. Can you say blackmail? Or what if the military somehow lost an important encryption key? Or what if terrorist organization got their hands on state-sponsored invisibility technology? Of course, there are always solar flares that could wreak havoc with our satellites. The list of crazy possibilities seems endless.
I’ve asked three incredibly intelligent individuals from diverse backgrounds to enlighten us as to what types of tech-related Armageddon scenarios they view as real and potentially devastating. Do you have some ideas of your own that aren’t discussed here? What do you think about all of this? Leave us a comment to let us know!
Physical Destruction Caused by Digital Systems; Theft of Valuable IP
Contributed by: Shawn ...