By now, most are familiar with the hacks that saw leaks of some very important e-mails from SONY executives. E-mails from the head of the Sony Film division, Amy Pascal, featured prominently in the leaks.
There were derogatory e-mails about POTUS, e-mails that hinted at Idris Elba being pegged as a potential future James Bond, some e-mails that illustrated how SONY lost the ‘Jobs’ movie, and e-mails where Kevin Hart was referred to as a greedy ‘whore’ for demanding more money to promote one of his movies on Twitter.
SONY’s internal investigation, which was conducted by FireEye, linked the attacks to DarkSeoul, a notorious hacker group that has been known to operate out of North Korea. The group was also previously linked to the high profile cyber attacks on South Korean banks and media companies back in 2013.
While a lot of the language used in Amy Pascal’s personal emails was very worrisome, I fear that that the most terrifying message from the attack stems from the fact that a foreign hacker group can penetrate private computer systems and successfully blackmail an international corporation into canceling the theatrical release of ‘The Interview’, a movie whose content the hackers were not at peace with, probably because the movie featured a satirical plot to assassinate the North Korean Supreme leader.
The ease with which Amy Pascal and other Sony Executives expressed their sometimes socially & politically incorrect thoughts over email points to a larger trend of general consumer confidence in the security, privacy and reliability of modern technology.
As we gradually begin to connect & expose larger portions of our persons to the internet, from our ‘private’ e-mails and social media statuses, to iCloud photos, to the trend that the technology press is referring to as the ‘Internet of Things’ which promises to connect all our personal home appliances, transportation systems, industrial applications, healthcare systems etc to the internet within the next couple of years, one has to wonder how much more dangerous cyber attacks could get ten years from now.
While more information sharing and linkages via connected devices means more data with which to optimize performance and increase efficiency of familiar workflows, to hackers like DarkSeoul it means more impactful potential consumer vulnerability points to exploit.
Today it’s just a couple of North Korean hackers blackmailing ill mannered SONY executives into not releasing a half-decent movie that the world can easily do without, tomorrow DarkSeoul could decide to shut down the entire country’s financial system or some other black hat terrorist group could decide to take over control of millions of self-driving cars and threaten to stage a massive countrywide car crash unless the government meets some really big and potentially destructive demands.
I know this sounds like something out of a Sandra Bullock movie, but it honestly is not too far-fetched in the reality that we are gradually approaching.
"Billions of dollars are spent yearly gearing up for nuclear warfare, but I fear that the next big war might be cyber and not nuclear, and it is important that individuals, corporations and governments keep this at the back of their minds as they interact with connected technological software and devices in the new age."