Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Devil Wears Malware

Baby boomers who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s remember air raid drills and television broadcast interrupted by “this is a test of the emergency service system” followed by a high-pitched ring. They will recall fallout shelters which looked cozy with their shelves of items like Campbell’s soup and hiding under desks at school during air raid drills. A lot of good hiding under a desk was going to do against an H bomb, but during Cuban Missile Crisis grownups, not too many of whom had seen Alain Resnais’ haunting Hiroshima, Mon Amour, took these precautions seriously. Today, we worry about Kim Jong-un developing the capability of sending an ICBM with a nuclear warhead to the West Coast, but he's a comic book character with his hairdo, paunch and vaguely hermaphroditic appearance and no one seems to take his rantings as seriously as they did Nikita Khrushchev’s during the cold war, when he took off his shoe and banged it on his lectern at the U.N. Today, what is more fearful is the kind of “hybrid warfare” in which political economies that are totally dependent on information and connectivity are threatened by cyber attack. The "fallout" from the recent and massive cyberattack is still being felt around the world and the Russians of course did this with the election. What will happen if the Russians or the North Koreans or Anonymous attacks Verizon or one of the other service providers--something which is a distinct possibility? Imagine no cell phone or internet! The book that prophesied Armageddon back in the 50’s was On the Beach. The Devil Wears Malware might be the first volume of an apocalyptic series about the dissolution of our information economy.

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