“… we believe that state actors have developed cyberweapons to cripple infrastructure targets in ways tantamount to kinetic assaults. Some of these weapons could potentially destroy hardware as well as data and software.”
This was the report General Keith Alexander, head of the U.S. Cyber Command, told Congress last Wednesday according to the Washington Times.
Stuxnet has really shaken the cyber war experts with it’s innate ability to modify and actually destroy physical hardware. Unfortunately this seems to have not gone unnoticed by all the nations that are involved and creating offensive cyber weapons.
Countries are actively searching out and recruiting the necessary talent to create such weapons. Iran is willing to pay up to $10,000 per month for computer hackers. And the thing is, the individual recruits may not even know what they are working on:
“Computer experts working on piecemeal projects wouldn’t even necessarily know they were working on a government cyberattack plan, according to Mohsen Sazegara, another former member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, who now lives in the Washington, D.C., area. “It’s a process.
They write complicated programs and divide and subdivide the work in such a way that even a highly qualified person might not know the end results. So they (the regime) can recruit many people who would not know that the end result of their work might be a computer worm.”
This process sounds very much like the plot of the 2007 “Live free or Die Hard” movie with Bruce Willis and “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long. Where individual hacker’s programs are created separately, then brought together to create an attack that shuts down American infrastructure.
And if General Alexander belief that state actors have already created “kinetic” cyber weapons, then we will be facing much more sophisticated attacks than the Iranian Cyber Army’s defacement of the “Voice of America news service” website.