With the ever-growing presence of state-sponsored cyberattacks like the massive WannaCry ransomware crisis (linked to North Korea) and the current VPNFilter router attack (linked to Russia), there's a growing concern that these and other smaller campaigns are mere smokescreens for the ultimate terrorist threat - a weaponized cyberattack that is designed to take down key civilian infrastructures and cripple an entire nation.
Cyber warfare is evolving constantly as we speak and state-level attacks are now increasingly targeting consumer-grade systems like Internet-of-Things (IoT) gadgets, computers and routers to lay the foundation for large-scale and more ambitious cyberattacks.
With this in mind, this political shift in malware campaigns should be a cause for concern and everyone should remain mindful about cybersecurity.
America, in particular, is still the biggest target for state-sponsored attacks. Aside from the cyber-defense strategies our dedicated tech experts in the military, the CIA, the NSA, and the FBI are employing, regular consumers can contribute by regularly checking their gadgets from malicious software that can turn them into pawns in an all-out cyberattack.
Who can launch an all-out cyberattack against America?
With adequate know-how and skills, global cyber warfare campaigns are relatively cheap and easy to launch.
Right now, there are four countries that have the resources and the motive to engage in hostile state-level cyberattacks: Russia, China, and to a lesser extent, North Korea and Iran.
Among these countries, Russia, in particular, is considered to have the most advanced capabilities since it has heavily invested in offensive cyberattack capabilities in the past years.
Listen to this Komando On Demand podcast for more on what the Russian hackers are after and how you can stop them. You’ll want to share this important information with your family and friends.
On the other hand, due to numerous sanctions against it, North Korea is currently in dire need of foreign funds. The campaigns that are attributed to the state so far (such as WannaCry and the recent Joanap/Brambul threats) are understandably geared toward profit rather than disruption.
And as these attacks get more sophisticated and widespread, the stakes are higher than ever. The impact of an all-out infrastructure cyberattack can be absolutely crippling to a target state. In effect, state-sponsored attackers are getting bolder and less concerned about getting caught.
When the unimaginable happens
The consequences of a complete infrastructure shutdown can be utterly devastating. If terrorist hacking groups attack and manage to get operational access to critical civilian infrastructures like our electrical power grid, water utilities, the internet and communication networks, it could take weeks before these services can be restored.
It's quite the doomsday scenario but within those crucial days, unprecedented chaos will surely reign. Crime could run rampant. Citizens will be defenseless against both human and natural threats. Large portions of the population will be left dazed, helpless and confused.
And without communications and power, hospitals and emergency services will be severely crippled.
Make no qualms about it, there's a possibility that millions will actually die after an all-out infrastructure cyberattack. The aftermath can be so severe that it can take years before the U.S. can recover (if ever) from such a catastrophe.
What can you do?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, we can still play our part in protecting our nation against infrastructure cyberattacks by being mindful of cybersecurity.
As basic as it sounds - by updating your systems and software with the latest patches, securing your routers and gadgets (including your smart appliances) with proper configurations and strong passwords, and by keeping yourself informed of the latest cyber threats from sites like Komando.com, you are still playing a vital part in protecting our country against even the most elaborate state-sponsored cyberattacks out there.
FBI router warning infecting 500,000 devices is worse than they led on
The big story in cybersecurity news the past few weeks is the massive malware attack against routers and network-attached storage devices that appears to have Russian origins. However, due to how VPNFilter is designed, a reboot won’t completely remove it and it also gains more abilities and functions over time. In fact, new findings are saying that it’s more powerful and widespread than originally thought! Read more about this scary threat!