The threat of cyberattacks

By Dakota Phillips, Copy Editor

The recently released video game Watch Dogs, a game about remote hacking, has brought the topic of cybersecurity back into public view. The game contains elements of potential hacking such as controlling street and traffic lights, spying through webcams and hacking phones to eavesdrop conversations. These are preschool lessons in comparison to the real-world opportunities.

We live in a society with a digital brain. A society where everything is determined in some way by a computer system. Everything from cars to hospitals utilize and depend upon some kind of computer to operate. Anything on a network can be tasked with a series of codes and commands.

To learn these techniques is not hard, they can be taught through searching Google. Learning code, acquiring the equipment and skills can make you into a genuine hacker ready to help or harm this vulnerable world. Knowing what to look for such as what hardware and software to use and having the skill to community and codes command is the key. The cost is high as circulation of those crucial components and anyone less than a manufacturer would have a tough time acquiring them.

Privacy is mostly dead in the digital frontier. Social networks broadcast our personalities and a snapshot of ourself on a digital wall for the entire world to see. The growing power of the NSA creates a situation where your whole digital ‘self’ is stored on a government server pending a revision of the word terrorist.

Legality is as irrelevant as gun laws are to a firing handgun. In the landscape of laws they are designed the best they can be at prevention and punishment. Just as the law doesn’t prevent a school shooting so too does it do little to prevent cyberattacks. Along with legislature being passed to require warrants to check smartphones, TSA now requires electrical devices to be powered up to protect against the digital threat of laptops and phones. Where one part of the government understands the issue of smartphones, the other partly comprehends.

People don’t think about security. Right now it’s an open world of possibility but as the tools for hacking become more easily available, the awareness of vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity and the protection of your digital self needs to become as great a priority as your health or finances. Running from this world of internet and computers is nigh impossible with the shrinking frontier of analog. Try never buying food without plastic forever or getting a job that pays only in cash. Drones and widespread surveillance creates a digital profile of your watched actions, such as card payments and camera shots, thus pulling you back into this digital world.

Much like an immune system is hardened by testing its strength on viruses, such is true of these securities. We cannot run from the possibilities of the future. We have to stand and fight it. Understanding threats is the key to defeating them. Keep one eye on the real and another on the digital.