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SECURITY

Next Stuxnet Cyber Attack to Down Internet?

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Given the fact that the recent Stuxnet cyber attack, as compared with a current hacker-type cyber attack, is like comparing conventional weapons to nuclear weapons, are you at all concerned about this next phase of internet cyber attack and security?

Stuxnet was uniquely designed to target and attack specific hardware, apparently the type which exists in particular Siemens hardware that is being used by the Iranians in their nuclear development labs.

What if… the next Stuxnet type worm weapon is designed to target and cyber attack high Tier routers on the internet?

The internet is layered in Tiers, with Tier 1 consisting of very high end router links capable of moving massive amounts of traffic. Although the internet is structured in such a way to provide redundancy routes, who’s to say that a new generation cyber worm couldn’t take out enough key routers to crash parts (or most?) of the system networks.


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Most of us living in the modern world rely on the internet backbone to survive, whether we realize it or not. Just about everything we do or buy depends on internet connectivity to somewhere.

When you pull into the gas station to fill the tank, 99 percent of us use our debit card (or some card) to make the transaction. In fact, think about it, how many of us use cash for anything anymore?

Sure, we walk around with a little pocket cash for incidentals, but, right now, open your wallet or purse, and count how much cash you have on hand at this moment. For most, I’ll bet its less than a hundred dollars (euros, pounds, etc…).


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Today, its mostly all digital dollars, and digi-dollars don’t work without the internet.
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Without the internet, your pocket money will have to get you through until the internet is back up again.

I wonder how many gas stations, grocery stores, or any type of store will have the ability to accept your cash if the internet network is down. How many of the “cash” registers today are networked and require internet connectivity back to headquarters before they will even operate and accept your transaction, even though it is a cash transaction?

When you start to really think about the possibilities of what might be affected by a downed internet, it gets rather alarming to say the least.


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So, now that this gloom and doom scenario is pointed out, lets talk about a few of the good and preventive measures that can be taken before a major cyber attack.

Print hard copies of anything pertinent related to your finances. Print your latest bank statements, and write down your bank information including addresses and phone numbers.

Download and save statements, PDFs, anything that would serve as some form of proof.

Backup your important documents, files, and data to a portable hard drive, one which you only connect to your computer when you are doing the backup.

Think about the information that you rely on being at your fingertips simply by going out over the internet and getting it. If its important, download it, print it, or write it down.

You might want to consider investing in a decent home Safe, and keeping a comfortable amount of cash on hand, just in case. Maybe also a number of silver ounces? :)
silver-eagle-backup-money


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Would be curious to hear from you Information Technology folks out there… Is it within the realm of possibilities that a hardware-targeted Stuxnet type worm could damage enough high level routers to bring the system down, or some degree of “down”?
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3 Comments

  1. I think the government and business would be wise to not depend on the internet so much. Especially when you consider how much time individuals employed by both government and private employers waste on the internet. Everyone jumped on the badwagon without knowing all the implications. I use my old laptop for the internet and my new one is never connected.

  2. Not very likely.

    The internet is designed with systemic redundancy at it’s core. What would have to happen is ALL authoritative DNS servers to be disabled, and these are dispersed worldwide.

    Stuxnet is a hyper-sophisticated worm that remains hidden, every five seconds looking for one specific set of conditions to exist before activating.

    It is a hardware attack targeting one single Siemens PLC (programmable logic controller) that is used in industrial control systems. It overwrites the programming of this controller, and initiates a protocol ending with the DEADF007 command (ominously named to be sure). This controller is not used in “regular” computer electronics.

    In addition, all of the internet routing computers run Unix or some variant thereof. Unix is inherently impervious to malware. If an errant process even attempts to exceed its assigned memory space, the kernel (core code) will kill the process instantly. So, even if a worm/virus were to infect these systems, if activated to write into hardware (which is outside the process memory space), it would be ended.

    Hope this helps to explain.

  3. I was speaking in general terms not just to Stuxnet. I have worked on top secret systems housed inside a Faraday cage with only secure landlines connecting it to other systems. The internet is the exact opposite in terms of security.
    I am familiar with Unix and Linux and the stories of their strengths are exaggerated. Windows is the dominant operating system thus it is the dominant target of hackers. But any system and any operating system can be hacked. There is no reason to believe using a Unix system will protect you from cyber terrorism from China or Russia. They will tailor their attack to the systems that would cause the most havoc if they are brought down.

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