Are we ready for Cyber War? Will a digital Cyber War result in hundreds of millions of deaths both here in the United States and the rest of the world? Are you ready for it? Can you survive without a grocery store and electricity? If not, then you had better get yourself to where you can. If not, then you will be one of the casualties of this next war.
U.S. fears science fiction-style sabotage in new wave of cyber attacks
When a computer attack hobbled Iran's unfinished nuclear power plant last year, it was assumed to be a military-grade strike, the handiwork of elite hacking professionals with nation-state backing.
Yet for all its science-fiction sophistication, key elements have now been replicated in laboratory settings by security experts with little time, money or specialized skill.
It is an alarming development that shows how technical advances are eroding the barrier that has long prevented computer assaults from leaping from the digital to the physical world.
The techniques demonstrated in recent months highlight the danger to operators of power plants, water systems and other critical infrastructure around the world.
Scott Borg is director of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, a non-profit group that helps the U.S. government prepare for future attacks
'Things that sounded extremely unlikely a few years ago are now coming along,' he said.
While the experiments have been performed in laboratory settings, and the findings presented at security conferences or in technical papers, the danger of another real-world attack such as the one on Iran is profound.
The team behind the so-called Stuxnet worm that was used to attack the Iranian nuclear facility may still be active. New malicious software with some of Stuxnet's original code and behaviour has surfaced, suggesting ongoing reconnaissance against industrial control systems.
And attacks on critical infrastructure are increasing. The Idaho National Laboratory, home to secretive defence labs intended to protect the nation's power grids, water systems and other critical infrastructure, has responded to triple the number of computer attacks from clients this year over last, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has revealed.
For years, ill-intentioned hackers have dreamed of plaguing the world's infrastructure with a brand of sabotage reserved for Hollywood. They've mused about wreaking havoc in industrial settings by burning out power plants, bursting oil and gas pipelines, or stalling manufacturing plants.
But a key roadblock has prevented them from causing widespread destruction: they've lacked a way to take remote control of the electronic 'controller' boxes that serve as the nerve centres for heavy machinery.
The attack on Iran changed all that. Now, security experts - and presumably, malicious hackers - are racing to find weaknesses. They've found a slew of vulnerabilities.