Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Big Hack: Can this happen to us?

In June, New Yorker Magazine published a gripping tale depicting a coordinated cyber attack against New York City. Reeves Weideman's story is a fictional account based on real-life hacks and attacks that already exist today.

Carrying out this type of attack would require well-corroborated resources and a highly sophisticated plan. But every vector of attack laid out in this story is one that is feasible. It is the coordination and timing of the various cyber attacks that make this story so fantastic.

Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen in our lifetimes? I don't know. But 9/11 happened; that synchronized attack required just five years of planning.

I share this story with you today not to incite fear but to educate. We live in a world where every modern convenience is connected to the Internet, and we each need to understand the security implications of that ubiquity.

Our HOA property manager was on site (for once) the other day, telling me that he knows exactly how to prevent being hacked. "I tell everyone to just shut down their computers," he proudly opined. Sure, if you are unplugged from the Internet permanently, you'll never get hacked.

Good luck with that. This fellow couldn't run his business without Internet connectivity.

It's a naive suggestion because every electronic device you own now and in the future is already connected to the Internet, including the phone in your pocket. Better to educate yourself and be vigilant.

Here is that New Yorker story: The Big Hack: Envisioning the Hack That Could Take Down NYC: The day cars drove themselves into walls and the hospitals froze. A scenario that could happen based on what already has.

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