When we think of hacking, most of us probably worry about someone shady accessing our personal email accounts or cell phones. But these are mere paper cuts compared to the large-scale, international cyber attacks that are rapidly gaining in frequency and severity. As technology becomes more entwined with every aspect of life, so too does the risk of brazen invasions, whether you’re a lone individual, huge corporation or governmental entity. It’s full-on war out there and a cyber weapons industry is exploding to arm the fighters. The most famous example of this new breed of weapon is Stuxnet, a computer worm that destroyed something physical – the centrifuges at a nuclear facility in Iran. Now, we have weapons that can carry out an assassination by shutting off a hospital’s computer-controlled intravenous drip or hack into a car’s computer system to crash it at will. Google, the IMF and even our national symbol of defense, the Pentagon, have all been hacked. It’s a Code War era complete with international ties and political motives. But unlike the Cold War, during which mutual assured destruction kept the superpowers from pressing the red button, this crisis has no clear failsafe. How do we fight a war in which traditional military strategy does not apply? What are countries and corporations doing to fend off such attacks? Has the U.S. been involved with any hacks aimed at its enemies?
Michael Riley is a Washington reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek
Ashlee Vance is a technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek