Security Expert: Potential Cyber Attacks May Be Bigger Threat Than Thought

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 07:45 AM

By John Morgan

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Potential cyber-security breaches could pose a near-infinite gauntlet of dire security threats to governments, corporations and individuals, according to Paul Rosenzweig, a former top U.S. Department of Homeland Security official and author of a book on the subject of cyber warfare.

Most of Rosenzweig's dark outcomes involve either disruption or disinformation, according to Quartz.

They include spreading bogus information that could tank stock markets or even cause nuclear war, shutting down satellites that govern navigation, or mass disruption of utilities.

Editor's Note:
The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

"All of these are very, very real vulnerabilities," Rosenzweig told Quartz.

"There are people who would love to do these to us but don't have the capability yet, like Al Qaeda. There are others, like Russia, China and Iran, who could do much of it, and they might do it at some point. But when, and why, we don't know."

Rosenzweig is author of the book "Cyber Warfare: How Conflicts in Cyberspace Are Challenging America and Changing the World."

Quartz said he would not discuss the work he did on highly classified efforts by the government to anticipate cyber-security disasters as a way of thwarting them, but Rozenzweig said one important question is whether potential cyber-security threats by nations like China, Iran or Russia, if they were carried to fruition, would constitute an act of war.

Quartz cited a report that a Chinese hacker is suspected in a recent intrusion of a government database that contained information on dam vulnerabilities. Other potential infrastructure threats include those to oil refineries, the power grid and the global financial system, according to Rosenzweig's book.

Rosenzweig said space-based satellite navigation systems are a particular matter of concern.

"What if someone started degrading the information that GPS runs on?" he asked. "You could make our missiles less accurate, our planes less able to fly or less safe. You could intercept, degrade it or spoof it."

The Department of Homeland Security has issued warnings that Middle East- and North Africa-based criminal hackers have scheduled cyber attacks this week against the U.S. government agencies, banks and other companies, The Washington Times reported.

The attacks, dubbed #OpUSA, for Operation USA, will begin Tuesday, the department said in a warning letter sent to the private sector last week, according to The Times.

Editor's Note: The IRS’ Worst Nightmare — How to Pay Zero Taxes

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