The Day the Internet Died

I was really kind of dumbfounded back a couple of years ago when nobody I talked to knew about or really cared about or saw the implications of Stuxnet; nor have they cared about the even more sophisticated versions that have come along since.

Since then, I’ve had a pretty low threshold so that threats to internet security get my attention, especially when the hacking is at nation-state level or of such a scale that real damage is possible.

So my alarms went off this morning, first thing, to read of a spammer attack on an anti-spamming entity that is being described as the “biggest attack in history“ this week. Perhaps most alarming is that this was NOT a nation-state behind this attack. And yet the extent of the attack was the equivalent of a rural neighborhood launching a nuclear warhead.

Moments later I read that Evernote is attracting Malware now. This was a bit lower on my alert level since for the past going-on 72 hours, my pro account at Evernote has been fubared, and the enhanced tech support my paid subscription was supposed to have bought me is taking a beach trip and cannot be disturbed. Are you listening, potential Evernote Business folks?

About the time I’m bemoaning the fact that I’ve “put my brain into” Evernote, Ann calls from upstairs. “Says I have a virus. What do I do?”

Which brings me round to my prediction that the time will come soon when the power of cyber-weapons in the hands of rogue groups of pimply-faced teenage hackers with a grudge will be enough to bring the global economy to its knees. And the Chinese, Russian, Iranian, North Korean and other digital armies will have to wait in a long line to take their shots at us at the same time.

Our throbbing heart of commerce, communication and entertainment has grown exceptionally susceptible. Need I mention yet another ship anchor has severed a major undersea cable. It seems like a throwback that we’re still depending on thousand mile wires under water, but there you have it.

So beware, my children. Your smart phones will become dumb. The Cloud will pucker up and rain on your parade. We will be suddenly “friendless” and have to actually leave our houses to have a conversation.

The horror.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. The last paragraph made me laugh out loud. Weren’t the greatest human social advancements and social change to date accomplished before cable tv, internet, email, and cellphones? Are you (mankind) really better off now than you were 40 years ago? At least the new technology allows me to question its value immediately with other virtual people.

  2. Ah, yes. Diversity. ‘Tis a bit of a joke in the telecom industry. When is “diversity” not diversity? When all of the cables are in the same general area. Or 20’ apart. Diversity is just a word. And cloud services? I’ve always been quite suspicious of them …

    The real horror is watching people bump into lamp posts and step out into traffic because they are so absorbed with their toys. Don’t text and DrIvE.

  3. Shall I tell you the tales of what is really happening in cyber space?
    Shall I describe the threats, the dangers that lurk here?
    Shall I explain, in depth, how a stranger thousands of miles away can access your bank accounts, your e-mail, your online existence?
    Shall I dissect a worm, a virus, a Trojan horse that has the capability to crash your country’s infrastructure?
    Should I warn you that your own computer may already be part of a botnet working for, controlled by, cyber terrorists?

    Shall I spread fear and alarm?

    The general public are pitifully aware of the risks and, alas, ill-equipped to protect their own small piece of cyber space

    There should be more education, more awareness…

    The next world war will be waged in cyber space….