Map of Conflict: Cyber-attack

Cyber-attack is any type of offensive maneuver employed by nation-states, individuals, groups, or organizations that targets computer information systems, infrastructures, networks, and/or personal computer devices by various means of malicious acts or destroys a specified target by hacking into a susceptible system.

For years, the idea of a computer virus causing a real world disaster was relegated to the works of science fiction. But in 2010, that changed. That was when a group of cybersecurity professionals discovered a virus codenamed ‘Stuxnet’.

Stuxnet

Stuxnet was a malware worm that attacked Iran’s nuclear program. It was the first cyberweapon that can destroy a real-world target. Stuxnet manipulated system software so that human operators thought everything was running fine while it destroyed uranium enrichment centrifuges. Most shocking of all, Stuxnet was reportedly created by two nation-states, the US and Israel, to attack Iran during a time of peace.

We are now live in the area of a new arms race. Where malicious piece of the undetected can threaten an untold number of human lives.

So what would a widespread cyber attack look like?

Unfortunately, we have already seen the first hints. In February 2016, the computer network at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles was hacked. The attack preventing the staff from using many devices at the hospital, even in the emergency room. The facility was so compromised it had to send patients to other hospitals for care. What if that was not an option?

Let’s take the sample, there are more than 300 Emergency rooms and urgent care centers in Bandung, and If they were all attacked at once roughly 30,000 patients a day would be put into jeopardy in that state alone. We have seen even bigger impacts in 2015, a cyber attack in Ukraine cut electricity power to more than 200,000 residents for several hours.

Then we can imagine if our country attacked and left without power, not for several hours, but for several days. Turning off everything from PDAM and PLN systems to airport and aviation safety software. Such a large-scale power outage was severely cripple the military and law enforcement, banking, and numerous other critical and life-saving services.

How could they attack us?

Malware implants can attack computer systems in the simplest of ways. servers can be forced to record a necessary data over and over again. These causes are free memory on a server to be used up at an accelerated rate. Ultimately leading to a huge computer system crash. Military and civilian networks could be brought down this way.

In fact, the Stuxnet virus successor was reportedly designed to accomplish exactly that. The ‘Nitro Zeus’, a cyberweapon developed by the United States Defense Department. Was created to wreak a widespread destruction on an entire country’s infrastructure. This cyber-weapon can shut down communication systems, power grids, and military communications. All without the use of bombs or bullets. As with the nuclear arms race, cyber-warfare’s potential threat to human lives is immense.

Despite this, this kind of warfare remains a highly secretive practice. There’s been very little dialogue or international diplomacy aimed at governing the use of cyberweapons. During the cyberattack, the weapon-virus infected computers, worldwide. Leaving the blueprint for creating Stuxnet like cyber weapons available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

 by the author.

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L. Ligardi Díaz

L. Ligardi Díaz

Dirjen. Kajian Multi Sektor-Kementrian Pusat Studi dan Kajian Kebijakan Kabinet KM ITB 2017; Pos Indonesia Intern; Unpad Street Cat Feeding founder.