State sponsored cyberattacks

Officials in the United Kingdom recently stated that a cyberattack from purported U.S. White House e-mail accounts actually originated from China, and the perpetrator used a hoax e-mail address that resembled a White House account. Within the emails were links that would have downloaded the Zeus malware. This is but another string of news about potential state sponsored attacks.

We’ve heard about the Stuxnet cyberattack against infrastructure in Iranian nuclear facilities that was purported to originate from Israeli sources. We’ve read about hacks against certain Google accounts held by dissidents of China.

Attacks against U.S. government facilities is a regular occurrence. And we’ve heard about U.S. government agencies gaining approvals to monitor the emails and web-based accounts of private individuals.

In response to this escalation of alleged (but unproved) state sponsored cyberattacks, the UK Foreign Minister, William Hague, has proposed an international conference to discuss “rules of Internet warfare.” Hague warns that such cyberattacks “poses one of the gravest threats to security.” So far there are no takers on the conference, as no one is admitting they are even involved in such activity.

In the scifi classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still,”  there is a climactic moment when all electric devices and machinery come to a halt, worldwide. There is a moment of silence, as this electronic Armageddon was executed upon the earth. Reducing all humans to operate on a pre-industrial age basis.

As technology continues to escalate, and our dependence on such advancements, could the equivalent of a cyberwarfare nuclear bomb be in development? A cyberattack so serious the Internet is shut down? Anything is possible and thus starting dialogue by the various governments about rules of cyberwarfare may not be such a bad idea.