The Economy

Technology: What Your Mother Should Have Told You

The older I get the more I can appreciate how far advanced we are technologically. As a youth living in Detroit, Michigan, my mother took us on an outing that I believe was presented by one of the big three auto companies. One of the many displays was about the future; I was about eight years old at that time. There where two things that stuck in my mind. First was a telephone, which had a small TV screen on it. We were told that someday we would be able to see the person we were talking to. The other was a sign up list (I think Pan Am) for a commercial flight to the Moon. With all these new computers and the many ways in which these microchips are used the future has now arrived. I would imagine my name must be pretty high on that list for the flight to the Moon since I signed up when I was eight.

Due to technology, the average American is living better than any king or queen in the past. Any soccer mom knows the Internet is where to find information about any subject even if they don’t own a computer themselves. What most moms don’t know is how dangerous the Internet could be to our country and world events. Technology has made the U.S. the most powerful super nation in the world. Technology is a power that is incalculable and unstoppable. It is our sustaining rise, but is it our Kryptonite fall? America is rapidly moving into some perilous times and we all are beginning to see how quickly our cushy lives may change. Many people are losing everything they own and many huge corporate conglomerates are tumbling to the ground like the Twin Towers. The news media is relentlessly grinding our hopes to powder. A feeling of some huge quantum leap is about to take place in our world. We are hearing about limited nuclear war of late and most people understand how devastating a nuclear bomb could be. Thankfully, making these devices is costly, not so easy to come by, and they are highly monitored by the powers that be. The unseen force that threatens the U.S. will be an invisible attack like the Kryptonite Radiation that renders Superman helpless; it is an Internet cyber attack. The FBI considers cyber attacks to be the third greatest threat to the security of the United States. Nuclear war and weapons of mass destruction hold the first two positions. When you consider that a small group of cyber hacker terrorists may inflict a great deal of damage to the United States with ease, from half way around the world. I would move the threat to the number one position since building nuclear bombs and weapons of mass destruction are complicated to attain. What would be the effects of a cyber attack? The most likely effect would be an economic blow to the nation’s financial infrastructure; it would cripple the country’s economy. A small attack took place in February 2000, it was a Denial of Service attack with an estimated cost of $338,854 and it shut down Yahoo. A cyber attack could also shut down electrical grids leaving us without electricity causing wide spread blackouts "similar" to an EMP above ground nuclear blast. The United States has recently had such an attack on a limited basis. An Article in the National Journal reported by Shane Harris May 31, 2008 said; "Chinese hackers pose a clear and present danger to U.S. government and private-sector computer networks and may be responsible for two major U.S. power blackouts." " These officials believe that the intrusion may have precipitated the largest blackout in North American history, which occurred in August of that year. A 9,300-square-mile area, touching Michigan, Ohio, New York, and parts of Canada, lost power; an estimated 50 million people were affected." In a worst-case scenario, multiple systems or networks would be attacked simultaneously especially military computers. The attacks would gather sensitive information such as troop and convoy movement, secret projects and the like. Limited attacks have already taken place on our military computers in Afghanistan just last year. We believe the cyber attack came from China at first, but now it is thought it came from Russia. In a full-scale cyber war, successful simultaneous attacks would collapse our economy, shut down electrical grids, and disable our military communication as well as the civilian communications, hospitals and other critical infrastructures. If these synchronized attacks were successful, the cyber attack would then be followed by military strikes. Few people know the World Bank was badly exploited and comprised last year. Actually, to the best of our knowledge, the bank was high jacked in the summer of 2007 and sensitive information about many of the banks security, secrets and corporate and personal accounts were ravaged for over a year. This was the largest and most prevalent cyber attack in our history. In a story reported by Richard Bahar of Fox News, "The World Bank Group’s computer network-one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation- has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year." These attacks are not kids using sophisticated hacking programs. Our fears are hackers that are working in foreign governments and military, China and Russia our main concern. Is Vladimir Putin’s "new weapon" a cyber bomb? Was it not Nikita Khrushchev that said before the UN "America will fall without a shot being fired?" The compromise of the World Bank has driers consequences for the United States. Don’t kid yourself. Dr. Joel Brenner executive from National Counterintelligence said, "If instead of attacking the Twin Towers al-Qaeda had taken down a major bank, the economic consequences would have been an order of magnitude ten times greater than the economic consequences of 9/11", and "taking down a piece of our banking system would be enormous and it would reverberate through the world financial system." Is this what really happened? What we are seeing was caused by the cyber attack on the World Bank and other institutions that have been comprised by cyber attacks. The mortgage crisis and stock market downturns may just be the domino affect of these cyber exploits.

Posted by Bill Conkis in The Economy