Poll Position: What worries you most about cyber attacks?

The biggest news about hacking lately has involved the News of the World tabloid in Britain and, we learned Thursday, an FBI probe of potential hacking in the U.S. by papers owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

But long before those reports, it was shaping up as a banner year for hackers of a different kind.

So far, this year has brought us compromised computers at Lockheed Martin, Citigroup, Google, the U.S. Senate, the International Monetary Fund, Sony, Epsilon Data Management and, maybe most embarrassing, RSA — maker of the SecureID tokens designed to, you know, keep data and systems safe.

Three years ago, U.S. Central Command was successfully attacked by a worm that continues to cause problems. Of course, as Stuxnet proved, Americans aren’t the only ones being so targeted. The Pentagon has decided that cyber attacks by other countries can constitute acts of war that may be deserving of retaliation by conventional military force.

What kind of hacking worries you most?

  • Attacks on companies with which I do business; my info might be stolen (22 Votes)
  • Attacks on government agencies; our security's at risk (19 Votes)
  • Spying on individuals by the likes of the News of the World (5 Votes)
  • Who cares (2 Votes)

Total Voters: 48

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Still, it’s worrying that both private companies with a business interest in protecting their customers’ personal information and government agencies with national security at heart have proved so vulnerable. This is probably a case where the public and private sectors will have to put their heads together to improve online security.

In the meantime, what worries you more personally: an attack on a company that you do business with (such as a credit card issuer), or the hacking of potentially sensitive government network? Answer in the poll to the left and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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19 comments Add your comment


July 15th, 2011
9:58 am

And yet, we keep pushing for more math, science, and technology education. Where has this gotten us, but this type of threat to national and personal security! Does no make the connection here?


July 15th, 2011
10:59 am

Kyle, none of the above.

Attack on public utilities is my fear. Imagine making every nuclear plant go “critical” with one little virus; imagine taking out all communications networks now that they’re in the hands of fewer and fewer companies. Remember when a mistake took out the power to millions of people in 2003? What if that wasn’t a mistake but a hack?

Gives new meaning to “If the phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.”


July 15th, 2011
11:05 am

I’m more worried about this: “Security gaps that hackers or terrorists could use to manipulate energy infrastructure, the electric grid, nuclear reactors and even the U.S. military…the country’s 104 nuclear reactors are in many cases less secure than in the past…countries like China and Russia are engaged in cyber espionage to probe the electric grid, posing a threat to the country’s power, water supply and telecommunication systems — all of which the U.S. military depends on…vulnerabilities could also provide an advantage to terrorist groups like al-Qaida

It’s true, that if Congress chooses not to raise the debt ceiling, then it’s hypothetically possible that Social Security checks could go out in exchange for closing down several functions entirely. But what would we have to give up in return?

Undoubtedly, our national security would be put at risk. This piece covers just one of the government functions that we don’t think about and that we take for granted. Those who are giddy about the possibility of cutting 40-plus percent of the government over night have no idea.


Kyle Wingfield

July 15th, 2011
11:10 am

Good point about utilities, ByteMe and CJ.

Btw, an apology to everyone for the strange posting time of this blog. For some reason, it originally posted with a time of 4:57 a.m. yesterday, pushing it down the list, even though I’d swear I checked the posting time and date before I hit “publish.” Anyway, I’m sorry if you came to the blog looking for fresh fare earlier this morning and couldn’t find it.

Rob Woodall Has Always Gotten His Healthcare for Free (but Paid By You), Yet he wants your grandparents to forgo food to pay out from their fixed income for healthcare

July 15th, 2011
11:22 am

Having my personal information compromised is a personal inconvenience, albeit a potentially frustrating, expensive, and troublesome inconvenience.

I am most concerned about the potential vulnerability of government or other public (service) sector systems.

Utilities as mentioned above are a great concern. The extent to which medicine has become an automated process is something else that ought to be of concern. A friend of mine is going to be undergoing robotic surgery for cancer in the near future. His medical records are stored electronically. Images from previous x-rays, MRI’s, and CT-scans are stored in DICOM systems. What would happen if a worm was unleashed on a hospital’s domain? You think medicine is expensive and inefficient now?

What if the air traffic control system was taken off line? There are too many dangerous scenarios to imagine.


July 15th, 2011
11:30 am

The paranoid will find funding, but the paranoid don’t want to pay taxes. You can almost kiss privacy goodbye, but the new generations of tweeters and facers crave attention so privacy means little to them. It takes all kinds to make a world.


July 15th, 2011
11:39 am

Energy systems. Utilities and pipelines.

Don't Tread

July 15th, 2011
11:50 am

You would think that after the first couple hacks, the government would be bright enough to move their critical data off the Internet completely and put it on a secured, isolated network.

Oh, wait…


July 15th, 2011
12:00 pm

Er, don’t you think if we pushed Math, Science, and Technology harder, we’d develop smarter individuals to provide safegards for us going forward to prevent such?

But isn’t education a contributing factor to our country’s fiscal ills?

Too funny.


July 15th, 2011
12:05 pm

Don’t Tread,

“As hackers expose widespread cybersecurity lapses and heighten fears about defending critical infrastructure from attack, one proposed solution has started gaining traction: Rather than attempt to tighten security on the modern Internet, it suggests creating an entirely new one.

Earlier this month, former CIA Director Michael Hayden became the latest figure in Washington to call for a separate, secure Internet to shield vital systems like the power grid from cyber-attacks. The new commander of the military’s cyberwar operations, Gen. Keith Alexander, has also endorsed the idea.”


Hillbilly D

July 15th, 2011
12:08 pm

Attack on public utilities is my fear. Imagine making every nuclear plant go “critical” with one little virus

It isn’t just the nuclear side of things; the entire power grid is vulnerable.


July 15th, 2011
12:24 pm

Probably my credit accounts being hacked into. But, have had my medical records hacked (repeatedly by someone obviously obsessed). Even filed a complaint, but in this climate, and administration, D.C. , for some reason, didn’t want to make the insurance company look into their weak security system (allowing virtually anyone in the world to reset a user name, and then password online, if they have the most basic insurance information on someone). Make sure you shred all your Explanation of Benefits, Folks!


July 15th, 2011
1:35 pm

What really worries me is there are no adults in charge. We are all quiet equal. When Walter Cronkite was around I never felt that. You don’t know who is going to hack you. Bush couldn’t wait to get his hands on wiretaps and sorted information, now it is journalist. They are now us, really always has been we are now just connecting the dots.

Tyler Durden

July 15th, 2011
2:15 pm

My fear is that the politicians who enabled this ever so willingly as a quid pro quo for Murdoch’s blessing (or to avoid his wrath for NOT enabling it) will continue to get away with it. Murdoch’s true colors have never been on grander display: he’s a foul example of humanity, willing to sacrifice all morals and liberties in his pursuit of filthy lucre.

Hell is too good for this soulless scum and those who support and enable him.


July 15th, 2011
2:53 pm

-how about spying on US citizens without warrant, as per the ‘Patriot’ Act…

Booger Fling

July 15th, 2011
3:42 pm

Toby! you da man

Booger Fling

July 15th, 2011
3:43 pm

CJ! don’t believe the hype! that internet is bad idea

Ron Jeremy

July 15th, 2011
4:30 pm

Just don’t hack the porn sites

Joel Edge

July 16th, 2011
7:24 am

Considering that on two separate occasions my info has been lost, not hacked, lost. Once by a lost flash drive with the guard and a lost laptop by the VA. None of the files should have been on a flash drive or a laptop but I received notifications of the possibility of compromised data. Nothing ever came of it. I don’t remember the third episode, that was a hacking of a government computer. The only info that hasn’t been hacked or lost is my credit card number.