Popular Science News | Computer Virus Weapons

Popular Science News – most of us understand the idea of a computer virus being used to silently steal our personal details so that hackers can raid our bank account but the idea of a computer virus being used as a weapon of destruction is probably unfamiliar. The rise of the Shamoon virus is worrying because it targets a single computer on a linked network of computers and then spreads throughout the network. This is nothing new but what happens next is the worrying part. The virus copies the data from the computer, sends it back to the hacker and then destroys the computer.

The Shamoon virus is used to attack infrastructure, for example power systems. In doing this is shuts the system down and creates havoc for a number of hours while the system is fixed. This is an attack on a business and therefore ultimately an attack on a country’s economy. Many countries have discovered that economic warfare is a much cheaper way of weakening a country than a conventional war and with little fallout if it keeps itself distanced from the attack. Some hackers are quite happy to be paid anonymously to create and spread these viruses and will probably never discover where the money originally came from. Worrying times; especially as India recently lost its ability to supply power to 620m people, and still experts are not clear why, or are not saying. I’m not suggesting that a virus was involved but the India experience shows how shutting down a part of a power grid can have a cascading affect on the rest of the grid. Interestingly, a series of such disasters could discredit a government and even lead to its downfall.


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