Cyber Weapons Could Create Devastation Comparable To A Nuclear Strike

Understandably, many people are concerned about the possibilities of nuclear conflict and this is very worrying, but a severe cyber war could also be as disastrous as a nuclear strike. Russia and the United States have abandoned recent discussions without agreement over intemediate nuclear weapons and both are now developing new nuclear weapons.

Also, the serious problems with Iran and North Korea that have created a new nuclear arms race and the nuclear threats have risen significantly. 

These threats are very serious, however, cyber threats could be just as dangerous, yet currently this is less understood by some governments and the global public. 

In the recent past most independent or government hackers have so far stolen data, money and-or, tried ransom threats.  But now hackers have put malware into US, Russian and other government power and water systems and this has serious potential consequences. 

Whereas most nuclear weapons if used in warfare would vaporise people within 100 feet and kill everyone within half a mile, however, most cyber- attacks would be suck as people dying from car crashes as traffic light systems are hacked, or people would die from lack of food or heat when power plants are hacked and taken off-line.

 In early 2016, hackers took over a US water drinking treatment plant, and if it had not been detected, it would have poisoned and killed a large number of people. In 2016 and 2017, hackers shut down the Ukrainian power grid.  In 2018, cyber-criminals gained access to the UK electricity system and in 2019 a similar attack happened to the US power grid.  These attacks have not stopped and oil and gas pipelines have been attacked and hacker have attempted hits on nuclear power plants.

Nuclear Rated Cyber-Attacks
There are three basic scenarios for how a nuclear grade cyber-attack might develop. It could start modestly, with one country’s intelligence service stealing, deleting or compromising another nation’s military data. Successive rounds of retaliation could expand the scope of the attacks and the severity of the damage to civilian life.

In another situation, a nation or a terrorist organisation could unleash a massively destructive cyber-attack, targeting several electricity utilities, water treatment facilities or industrial plants at once, or in combination with each other to compound the damage. 

Perhaps the most concerning possibility, though, is that it might happen by mistake. 

Just as there is no way to completely protect against a nuclear attack, there are only some ways to make devastating cyberattacks less likely.

Governments, businesses and regular people need to secure their systems to prevent outside intruders from finding their way in, and then exploiting their connections and access to dive deeper. 

If the world is to reduce the risk of serious cyber-attacks, including some with the potential to be as damaging as a nuclear strike, it will be up to each person, each company, each government agency to work on its own and together to secure the vital systems on which people’s lives depend.

The Conversation:        Science Alert:

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