Cyberwar Apocalypse: Is it Inevitable?
Imagine a scenario in which a cyber attack successfully disrupts computers used to report share values for a major stock market exchange or disable the electrical grid? What would be the impact? What would be the outcome of an attack on banks that freezes the capacity to process debit cards? The panic caused by either attack alone would be enough to result in both a real and psychological domino effect that sends the global economy into the virtual abyss overnight.
While cyberwarfare experts believe that the capacity to launch such attacks is currently limited to Nation States, one thing is certain. Non-state actors are demonstrating their growing capability to direct devastating attacks. Words like hacker, cyber-terrorist and most recently, "hacktivist" have entered our news vocabulary. The latter, which is a blend of the words hacker and activist, emerged notably on December 8th of 2010 when the websites for Visa and Mastercard fell under cyber-assault by a group of self-proclaimed hactivists. The group was responding to a decision made to stop payment to the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks. This is only the beginning of an era where economic structures are directly threatened by an assortment of electronic assaults from anarchists, cyber terrorists and self-styled cyber-patriots fighting to stop the New World Order. It doesn't take Edgar Casey, Nostra Damus or even Dion Warwick to guess what's around the corner.
The End is Near!
The number of attacks and proliferation of know-how increases the probability that the demise of our civilization will be a cyberwar apocalypse in the near future. The impact a successful large scale attack is difficult to measure. Take for instance the scenario mentioned before where the ability to process payments electronically becomes frozen. One immediate impact would be in the logistics industry that keeps our retail market moving. Overland truck drivers are responsible for transporting most everything sold in the US including food. Since most drivers process fuel payments via company debit/credit cards, even a momentary freeze in the ability to purchase fuel would soon cause empty shelves at local stores if only out of panic. Of course since most consumers make purchases of basic necessities not with cash but electronically, a run on banks by people in need of hard currency would mean serious trouble for everyone. Couple this with an attack on the U.S. electrical grid and you have yourself a cyberwar apocalypse that will make all the people who bought gold wonder how it tastes when Wal-Mart is empty.