Friday, 2 June 2017

The prospects for cyber crime

How much do you know about cyber crime? Is it true that it is the poor man’s atomic bomb? I would say it is more than that, it is the man in the street’s nuclear bomb.
     A recent program on the subject showed me how real and deadly serious this crime is. It is the most dangerous threat the human race has ever unwittingly faced, and the USA thankfully took up the baton to combat it with the National Security Agency, or NSA for short. It was ordered to go on the offensive.
     Unfortunately, its internal security measures lacked stringency. Consequently, a deadly virus referred to as Ransomware, allegedly of its making, passed into the hands of criminals. I am referring to the illegal encryption of user data, followed by demands to pay ransoms in Bit money, before the criminals will decrypt it. Bit money is itself an invention of the cyber world.
     Let me put the overall threat in its proper context for you. There are reputedly 50 billion devices attached worldwide to the internet.
     One of these is the Programmable Logic Controller or PLC, a rugged device used throughout industries of all types and varying in size from a small box to rack-mounted modular assemblies. They contain microchips and operate in stringent operating environmental, to control functions such as temperature, cleanliness, and power quality. To meet these challenges the PLC started to be developed decades ago in ways that permit its operation to be monitored.
     A 27 ton modern electricity generator was bought by a US company to test its resistance to cyber attack by a malicious computer worm called Stuxnet, which is self replicating and targets industrial computer systems. Within three attacks, it reduced the generator to a smoking, unusable, irreparable wreck.
     Its original target? An underground nuclear development facility in Iran.
     I ask you a question: is the biological Nano computer a reality? An answer was provided in 2011. It was reported that Scientists are one step closer to making a biological computer after having built basic components for digital devices out of bacteria and DNA. Some scientists believe that, in the future, small, biological computers could roam our bodies, monitoring our health and correcting problems they find. I wrote about this in The Time Slipsters.
     It is my understanding that it is now possible to activate a home PC remotely, even if not connected to the internet, without the owner’s knowledge. Imagine if your brain could be invaded by malware, via invisible waves, and attacked you.
     Impossible? Don’t bet on it. The PLC is used in the pharmaceutical industry, to control the manufacture of its products. I wrote about a product called tracer that a control freak called The Inlooker used to find out what people were thinking. I wrote, ‘as you read a document, it is looking back at you’.
     I often wonder if my Sci-fi is already reality.
Think long and hard about it what malware can do, and pray that the NSA is willing to act on our behalf before the 7 billion of us become less than 1 billion. I assume of course that the larger figure is acceptable to you. I don’t think it is sustainable.