Cyber attack against the United States and us personally?
Listen to Terry Gross on Fresh air but first pour yourself a nice adult beverage or strong tea! You will not be happy after you've listened to this.
Richard Clarke served as a counterterrorism adviser to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He spent much of 2001 warning members of the Bush administration about the possibility of an impending al-Qaida attack.
"A cyberattack could disable trains all over the country," he tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross. "It could blow up pipelines. It could cause blackouts and damage electrical power grids so that the blackouts would go on for a long time. It could wipe out and confuse financial records, so that we would not know who owned what, and the financial system would be badly damaged. It could do things like disrupt traffic in urban areas by knocking out control computers. It could, in nefarious ways, do things like wipe out medical records."
Now here is the part we all violate -- "Good hackers can get through any password," he says. "If you're going to buy things online, have a credit card for that purpose with a low credit limit. Don't do banking or stockbrokering online and have a lot of money at risk -- unless your stockbroker gives you more than just a password -- a two-step process for getting in. It won't just be a name and password."
Y'all know this but the Fresh Air program reminds us how much WE are a part of cyber crime, cyber warfare, cyber espionage and cyber terrorism.
"Clarke says that one common attack is for hackers to take over a series of home computers through backdoor security exploits. For example, malicious software can be downloaded onto a hard drive after you accidentally visit a compromised website. Your computer can then be used in conjunction with other compromised computers to engage in a large-scale attack. The average computer user may not realize when their computer has been drafted into a cyberattack."
"Maybe your computer will be running a little slowly that day," he says. "Maybe your bandwidth won't look like it's normal. But while you're doing your e-mails, your computer could be sending out denial of service attacks as part of a million other computers all trying to knock off a bank."