Paranoid Thought of the Day


If hackers could theoretically create financial chaos, isn't it likely that terrorists will find a way to? Does anyone else have the feeling that we're eventually going to be blindsided by a cyber attack the way we were blindsided by 9/11? How much does the Net's decentralized nature protect us?

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  1. I think Jim’s point is the most relevant. There’s no reason to hijack an airplane and fly it into a building unless you are a terrorist. Lots of people have been trying to hack into the financial system for a long time. Some of the efforts made from post soviet eastern Europe have been extremely well organized. This has resulted in a system that is pretty secure on the whole.

    The market has provided incentive to have lots of very smart people working hard to keep computers secure.

  2. It’s precisely the decentralized nature of the internet that makes it tough to attack. There’s no ‘one point’ on the net which can wreak havoc on ‘everyone’.


  3. Airplane security was then, and still is today, defined by the FAA. In contrast, network security is chosen by the entities seeking my financial business. Some of my equity investments are in companies competing to provide these network secure solutions. So long as there is this competition, and not the government’s one size fits all imposed solution, I’m comfortable. Well, at least until I’m forced to e-file with the IRS.

  4. Absolutely competition has provided a safer network than anything the government could have devised. Yet I don’t think this threat should be completely dismissed. For one, it need not be a huge attack to do damage – look at the headaches caused by viruses in the past. Secondly, while I agree it’s extremely unlikely that a truly serious attack could be carried out – one that could disrupt our financial markets or our military infrastructure – I wouldn’t say it’s impossible and, given the centrality of the IT infrastructure to American life, it’s a threat that should be taken seriously.

  5. Just because you aren’t paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

  6. People forget that boxcutters were at the bottom of 911.

  7. its much harder to do serious long term cyber damage than it is to hijack a plane.

  8. One must remember, the financial institutions have a very powerful incentive to protect themselves from hacker attack, terrorist motivated or otherwise. (One would think that pure greed may be a good motive, if someone figures out how to hack into Citibank and transfer millions to Swiss bank accounts or example).

    Also, history is some precedent here – the first people to bullet-proof their computers against the Y2K bug were the banks and financial centers.

  9. Buy gold coins and shotgun shells. Sometimes it is ok to be a kook.

  10. The net’s decentralized nature, ironically, makes it increadibly resilliant to physical attack (ie: comm centers wiped out by nuclear blasts)

    However, it’s still a network, and all networks are succeptible to virtual attack. Nothing you can do about that.

  11. My incredibly naive take on that fear is that if there are any Islamofascists out there with the technical skills required to conduct such an attack, they’s probably already be in the US working on an H1-B visa, making $40K or more a year, drinking beer and dating girls, and maybe rethinking that whole “Destroy America” thingy.

  12. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/20/2004 12:09:32
    Some things cannot be taught, only discovered.

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