Incoming! Time to get in the bomb-shelter!
Except, it’s a cyber-bomb, not a literal one. In the past few months, we’ve seen a large increase in warning signs that the Internet is going to turn into a literal battlefield one day. That viral attack that did physical damage in Iran a month ago is a good example.
However, the U.S. Air Force has recently declassified its own manual on protecting oneself against cyberwarfare. It makes mention of methods far more malevolent than mere identity theft, although those are included as well. The point is that they’re considering the possibility of more cyberattacks, possibly of equal or greater magnitude to the one Iran suffered.
So, basically, there’s no shelter against this bomb.
And, like sold or stolen nukes, pretty much anyone with the right contacts can get hold of such a weapon. All anyone can do is shore up their firewalls and antivirus countermeasures, and try to make themselves look like they’re not worth hitting. At least we have some consolation that these are steps people already take to some extent or other, because this really raises questions about how safe we really are online.
It’s always been apparent that the Internet is changing and will continue to do so in the future, but that doesn’t mean that it should be doing so in the direction of warfare. Jules Verne once described what’s essentially been equated to nuclear submarines in his “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”, and now such vessels are used by all the major powers of the world. So what’re we going to find here: digital monsters that zap around their battlefield and can take each other over? Virtual warriors who can “jump” from one structure to another and breach firewalls with a single “punch”? Skynet?
Seriously? Is that what we’re coming to here? Everyone knows that the Internet isn’t as safe as we’d like it to be, but if it becomes a battlefield – even in a limited war – then that conflict is going to be one without boundaries, because that’s the reality of how interconnected everything online is. All we can do is hope and pray that such a thing doesn’t actually come about, because there just might be no difference between the front line and the home front if it does.