Cyberthreats Pose Unsettling Cyber-Consequences

Former DHS official's new book examines the potential damage hackers could do to infrastructure and financial systems.

by / May 8, 2013

"How much damage could a group of well-trained hackers do, economic and otherwise, if they really wanted to?" That's the question posed by online news outlet Quartz, in a recent article that looks at former U.S. Department of Homeland Security official Paul Rosenzweig's book Cyber Warfare: How Conflicts in Cyberspace Are Challenging America and Changing the World.

Recent well-publicized hacks into the Department of Labor's website and the Twitter account of the Associated Press are described as amateur and relatively benign. What could happen, then, if the guilty parties were well-trained with malicious intent to cause as much damage as possible?

Rosenzweig offers a series of frightening possibilities for widespread disruption from sophisticated hacking groups:

  • Hacking into well-known sources to spread false information about a volatile international situation. Such an event could have a major impact on global financial markets that could take several days to correct.
  • Disrupting the New York, London or Tokyo stock exchanges by interfering with current trades or past trading records.
  • Interfering with the satellite navigation system, impacting GPS systems, missile accuracy and disrupting commercial and military air traffic.

“All of these are very, very real vulnerabilities,” Rosenzweig told Quartz, adding that some groups would likely carry out disruptions of this magnitude today if they could.

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