What would happen if a nation-state really did launch a serious cyber-attack against the United States, perhaps as part of something larger?
Who will step up to save us – the government, big business, or maybe a team of superheroes?
A new book explores what could happen when things go deadly wrong.
Consider the real-world cyberattack against the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) that made headlines in 2015. OPM allowed the Chinese to steal a roster and other information about every single US Government employee. OPM also allowed the Chinese to steal detailed information everyone who applied for a security clearance shared with the US Government. Imagine the spear phishing scams, blackmail, and other ways a hostile foreign power could exploit that information.
Or consider the real-world 2008-2009 cyberattack the United States and Israel deny launching against the Iranians to slow Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Iran has had 10 years to study that code and use it against us.
Think about manipulating high government officials or other influential people into doing something stupid. In the real world during the 2016 election cycle, former Whitehouse Chief to Staff, John Podesta fell for a phishing attack and gave away his email password to the Russians, and the Democrats allowed the Russians to steal their private emails.
Large-scale attacks are so common these days, they barely last one news cycle. Search for any Fortune 500 company name and “cyberattack” and the odds of finding a real-world attack story are better than even.
Readers will find plenty of excitement in Virus Bomb. But no Hollywood hackers. Nobody needs to suspend disbelief with this story.
In the real world, I used to play church-league, coed softball. I was never much of a softball player, and one time, a frustrated team coach tried to teach me about situational awareness. Know how many outs, where the baserunners are, the ball/strike count, and dozens of other factors. Always keep abreast of the game situation and how it affects me playing my position. This didn’t help my hitting, catching, or throwing, but hopefully helped me make smarter game decisions. This applies outside sports. They say when a bird lands on a power line in Canada, people in Mississippi feel it. In our interconnected world, somebody in North Korea can shut down a careless Fortune 500 movie studio with a few keystrokes. Or somebody in Ukraine can steal millions of credit card numbers from Minneapolis based Target Corp. by compromising an obsolete computer in an HVAC company in Pennsylvania.
We encourage others to see themselves as potential heroes by teaching global situational awareness. Start by reading Virus Bomb and Bullseye Breach.