You might think it’s crazy but someone is actually trying to kill the internet by inundating the web with excess data.
The internet, as we know it, might be at risk of getting taken down by a malicious group if new reports from internet security researchers are to be believed.
Bruce Schneier, who is a security and cryptography specialist and also the CTO at Resilient (an IBM company) recently said in a blog post about how he had ascertained that there were several probing efforts against the security systems of the cornerstones of the internet.
The cornerstones of the internet are basically the firms that supply and support the essential infrastructure of the internet.
In other words, these are the firms that make the internet work. Bruce Schneier avoided taking any actual names as the groups in questions only revealed him the information on the condition that their identities would remain anonymous.
Ostensibly, these organizations have identified a sharp increase in the number of DDoS attacks and Schneier believes that these latest attacks are notably bigger and longer than before.
He also said that the latest string of incursions is also decidedly more sophisticated than normal.
Moreover, it was also been revealed that the latest bombardment of malicious activities also look like as if they have been specifically designed to really push the defenses of the said organizations.
Not only that but reports have also shown that these attacks are varied in their nature to the extent that these attack vectors are able to figure out the defensive countermeasures that are in place in these organizations before they make the eventual damaging move.
Schneier, via his blog post on his official website, said that these attacks look like they are meticulously probing.
He further added that one week, these attacks would start at a particular level of attack and then slowly ramp up before stopping.
Schneier continued and said that the same attacks would start again the next week but at a higher point and continued on the same pattern afterward.
It should quite obvious from these lines that the attackers were simply looking for the weakest point of failure.
Should There Be Action Against These Attacks?
Needless to say, these increasingly intensive attacks could very well be leading up to some type of a large-scale campaign in order to deliver the final blow to the internet.
Schneier further hypothesized that these attacks don’t look like the work of your average hacker group that’s operating from a small office somewhere in someone’s basement.
He feels that these attacks are highly organized and well thought-out and hence gives the impression that a nation state is arranging these attacks. He cited China and Russia as the most likely nations which could have engaged in this kind of aggressive cyber behavior.
Schneier also asked himself the question of who could have been responsible for these intermittent but planned attacks.
In an answer to the question as to who could have been the culpable party, Schneier said that the whole situation didn’t seem like something an activist, criminal or research would be able to do.
He further explained that Profiling core infrastructure was a common practice in activities that were related to espionage and intelligence gathering.
Schneier justified his theory by saying that it was not normal for companies to do these type of attacks on a regular basis which such meticulous calculations.
The Resilient CTO was also of the opinion that the size and scale of those probes – and particularly their persistence – pointed towards state actors and it felt like a nation’s military cyber command trying to fine-tune its weaponry in case of a cyber war.
Schneier further supported his claims by noting that his observations were corroborated by Verisign’s recent reports on DDoS trends that demonstrated a rise in the number of persistent and complex cyber attacks, especially in Q2 of the current year.
However, it should be added that all of this is speculation and some commentators were skeptical about Schneier’s blog spot.
They observed and even if these attacks were from a nation state, the method chosen to test out their cyber war capabilities was a rather noisy and unsubtle one.
Some questioners also doubted if it was indeed the most efficient way of gathering intelligence for cyber-espionage operation assuming that there was indeed some sort of a plan underway.
Some industry experts also believed that there were other more effective methods to in order to achieve the same results.
One of those “more effective” methods was to just leverage the human aspect, in other words, weaknesses and the tendency for making mistakes of the employees that were working for companies that were targeted by these attacks.
What Does Steve Wozniak Think About Cyberwars?
About some six months ago Steve Wozniak gave voiced his own opinion concerning cyber wars and said that cyber terror was the new atomic bomb in more ways than people imagined.
Steve Wozniak (who helped Steve Jobs start his company, Apple, from a garage) said that cyber attacks were the modern equivalent of atomic bombs that were capable of causing a massive amount of damage to its targets.
But the damage Wozniak was referring to was a different one: it was the damage caused by fear and paranoia and of course one can’t ignore the threat that these two facets of cyber wars pose.
Steve Wozniak, who is also the co-founder of Apple, share his opinion on the matter while talking to Lateline which is an Australian news and current affairs TV show that is produced by ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
In the interview, Wozniak recounted stories of the Cold War that existed during his youth and stated that they (the society) used to fear the atomic bomb when he was young. He also said that he used to come home from school and sirens would go off for a test on every corner of the block.
He further added that those were incredible days of fear from something. Wozniak also noted that people were bound to fear all the cyber-attacks and hacking.
Steve then questioned what would be the next big thing that people were going to hear about a lot in the news. He said “Is it gonna hit me? Could they really take out our electrical system, turn off our internet? How far can it go? And it’s getting worse and worse year by year, not better and better.”
The Climbing Threat Level
Needless to say at this point but national state sponsored cyber warfare is not a classified piece of information anymore. The threat is palpably real and, potentially, cyber warfare could target any country’s strategic infrastructure and wreak havoc on it.
The threat cyber criminals all around the world pose to critical areas of the economy is growing on a yearly basis.
Incidences involving ransomware, which actually operate like real businesses now, are incrementally increasing and have now expanded their area of operation to police and hospital records as well. In other words, the cyber criminal threat is a very harmful one for individuals and companies (public or private) alike.
In the interview given to Landline, Steve Wozniak also talked about how modern society had now reached a stage real privacy did not exist at all.
He said that with cameras watching our every move and everywhere, almost every action any person would take is being tracked.
AI Is The Future, But A Distant One According To Steve Wozniak
And while talking about related subjects to cyber warfare, Wozniak felt that AI (Artificial Intelligence) was still a long way away in terms of autonomous machines that could make a decision and sustain themselves without human help.
He said humans won’t be seeing actual “artificial intelligence things” anytime soon and that true Artificial Intelligence, the one which is able to reason, is still a concept for the future, not the present.
Wozniak further added that it would take in the range of another 200 years for humans to be able to develop an Artificial Intelligence that can evolve to the point where it can be distinguished from humans and is able to work on its own in the real world.
To put it another way, machines won’t be hunting us down Terminator Salvation style anytime soon. Artificial Intelligence will continue to be dependent on humans for much of the foreseeable future at this point in time.
And if the opinion of a person who gave us Apple doesn’t count for much then how about a comment from the President of the United States of America.
Obama Says That Cyber Attacks Will Be Considered Acts of War.
Last year President Obama voiced his own position on matters related to cyber warfare.
In fact, President Barack Obama announced an executive order that allowed the government to force financial sanctions against nations and entities that were involved in cybercriminal activities.
The executive order effectively meant that malicious cyber attacks would be treated in a similar fashion to physical attacks.
The United States Treasury Department, as a result of the issued executive order, would be able to enforce financial and travel sanctions against personnel who were found to have engaged in activities related to hacking and other national security threats.
In April 2015, Obama said in an official statement that the Executive Order authorized the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the State, to impose sanctions on individuals or entities that engaged in malicious cyber-enabled activities that created a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States of America.
Not only that, but according to a Reuter report that came out in April 2015, the order that was given by President Obama essentially gave the same tools to the United States of America as other cyber warfare players. The report also said that because of the executive order the United States of America would be able to tackle cyber threats all over the world including the ones in the Middle East and Russia (more specifically, the Russian aggression in Ukraine at that point).
It should be noted though that the executive order only addressed the cyber threats that originated outside the country.
A report from New York Times stated that actions that targeted critical infrastructure, stole money, trade secrets or personal information or even those that disrupted computer networks through denial-of-service attacks would be considered as cyber attacks and the country would be able to take action under the executive order.
Moreover, the executive order also covered foreign organizations (companies) that were involved in intentionally harming the US economy by stealing trade secrets.
The executive order stated that the United States of America had the power to freeze their assets and would make it harder for them to do business with US companies and limit their ability to profit from their misdeeds.
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