The Threat Of Cyber Attacks Is Greater Than Ever

   The threat of cyber attacks is greater than ever these days as the hacking of the Colonial Pipeline and resulting chaos exemplifies. And the thing is: it could have been so much worse than it was.
   So much worse.
   Technology is amazing. It is! It makes our lives so much easier and allows humanity to accomplish achievements never before seen in the history of our species. Think about it. There are multiple probes and rovers operating on Mars right now, including the first helicopter flown on another world. We can video chat with people on the other side of our planet and watch movies on our smartphones.
   Computerization is also integral in the infrastructure of modern life. The power grid, water systems, air traffic control, the internet, financial institutions, the healthcare system, and national defense are just a few examples in which technology and computers are absolutely vital for safe and proper operations.
   Now imagine the potential devastating impacts that could occur from a severe enough cyber attack on any of these systems.
   Think about it for a minute
   Imagine hackers shutting down air traffic control operations at a major international airport, or even region of the country. Consider what that could entail. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport saw an average of 300,000 people passing through every day in 2018. At the very least, you’d have the chaos of massive flight cancellations and interruptions of people’s travels, and at the worst, you could have horrible plane crashes with terrible loss of life.
   Another frightening possibility would be hackers taking control of a major hydroelectric dam’s computer systems so that they could shut down its power generation and worse, potentially create a devastating flood that could kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people living downstream.
   Or consider this terrifying scenario: what if hackers seized the computer controls of a nuclear power plant.
   Cyber attacks are perpetrated by individuals, criminal organizations, terror groups, and other countries. The damage they can incur is downright scary.
   We as a society need to take this threat much more seriously than many have been so far. Improving cyber security is no easy matter especially when you consider that different people, companies, organizations, and governments vary as to how seriously they take it and what measures they may be implementing to protect themselves. And being a democracy, there are limitations in what the government can do because while we need better cyber security, we also must maintain people’s rights and freedoms. It can be a delicate balancing act with no easy answers.
   But seeing that we are facing serious cyber threats, like it or not, will have to grapple with finding better ways to protect ourselves while also maintaining our cherished way of life.

Doomsday Clock Moved Closer To Doomsday Than It Has Ever Been

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a nonprofit organization, has moved the Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds to midnight, midnight being Doomsday.
   The Clock represents the dangers and risks of catastrophe currently facing our planet, and multiple factors have led to this current state of affairs.
   One is that the risk of nuclear war is still very much present, and frankly, the odds of nuclear weapons being used in some fashion have gone up as more nations develop them. Terror organizations are trying to get their hands on a nuclear device and would use it if they got one. Imagine the ramifications of New York City being consumed in a nuclear conflagration.
   Another scenario is a confrontation between nuclear powers escalating and getting out of hand. The US vs Russia or China. India vs Pakistan. With the Nuclear Deal in tatters, Iran is more likely to develop nuclear weapons. If that happens, Saudi Arabia would do the same.
   A miscommunication or accident between nuclear powers could result in a nuclear exchange. This has nearly happened already. One example occurred on January 25, 1995. On that day, a group of scientists launched a research rocket from Norway. They had warned multiple countries including all the nuclear powers. Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Russian Radar Technicians, who then thought it could be a nuclear first strike from the United States. The nuclear command suitcase was brought to Russian President Boris Yeltsin who for several tense minutes considered whether to retaliate with nuclear weapons or wait figuring it was a mistake. Fortunately for history, he chose the latter.
   Human Caused Climate Change is another reason for the Clock change. Climate Change is here and the planet is already suffering from its effects. Worsening wildfires, droughts, extreme weather, melting polar icecaps raising ocean levels, the list goes on. Add to that the fact that political leaders such as a Donald Trump and others are still denying Climate Change and are taking actions that worsen the situation.
   A third factor is cyber/information warfare. This trend will continue and spread. Cyber attacks could cripple air traffic control systems, power infrastructure, and more. False information planted in social media also creates confusion and can worsen societal conflicts. A cyber attack upon defense systems could conceivably lead to an accidental nuclear exchange.
   We are living in dangerous, complex times.
   This is why the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday Clock closer to midnight than it has ever been since the Clock’s creation in 1947.