David Watts looks at the alarming proliferation of cyber attacks across the world, and asks what — if anything — can be done to counteract them.
It’s the war that nobody talks about: either because it’s too secret or because to admit its effects would be to admit vulnerabilities that no one wants to reveal.
But no one should be under any illusions: cyber crime, cyber war and cyber espionage are now part of everyone’s lives, whether they know it or not. The overall verdict of experts in the field is that the majority of nations and companies are simply unprepared or unprotected from the effects of one or all of these phenomena.
The prospects of a cybergeddon or digital Pearl Harbour grow by the day, given developed countries’ reliance on digital networks to run all their vital services from power to transport and water, health services and banking alongside a myriad of vital government services. A concerted digital attack on the infrastructure of any major country could rapidly bring it to its knees; witness the notorious Russian cyber attack on Estonia. And the threat is growing.