Grave Concerns

Grave Concerns

by James R. Campbell

If you watch the news on a regular basis, you know of the all too familiar stories of hacking attacks that have occurred in the last six months. Hospitals, E-mail servers, Democratic party headquarters—all have been victims of these malicious attacks.

Photo Credit: Flickr
Photo Credit: Flickr

On Monday, President Barack Obama met with Russia’s Vladimir Putin during a summit in China. One of the topics they discussed was the concern that Russian hackers could undermine confidence in the upcoming election in the U.S. There are threats by Russian hackers to release more of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails just before the election. The concern of many is that this could influence the outcome of the presidential election. This would be an unprecedented event in history.

At this rate, the present trend in this behavior isn’t slowing down, I have no doubt that it will accelerate, and the prospects look grim.

My interest in this topic emerged after the 2013 data breech at Target stores. Millions of Target customers had their personal information compromised when hackers broke in to the system. Target lost millions of dollars, and the reputation of the store chain was on the line. Since, things have only grown worse. We have digressed from stealing personal information to endangering the lives of patients in hospitals. Some have advised that companies, hospitals, and others go through third parties to prevent breeches of this kind.

Currently, America spends $13,000,000,000 dollars on cyber security. Given the threats we face now, as well as future threats, the sum is inadequate. I don’t know that anyone has reliable information with regard to how much foreign governments spend on cyber security.

What is the worst that can happen? Some experts fear that an unfriendly power or terrorist group may use some computer virus or malware to shut down the power grid. If that happens, our entire society would collapse. It is estimated that 90% of the U.S. population would die in an attack of this kind.

The frightening aspect of this scenario is that terrorists don’t need the internet to pull this off. There are malware programs on USB sticks that search for programs that are used to operate the power grid, for instance. If Isis managed to destroy the programs that run the power plants, everything else would follow. We know how well these programs work; in 2010, the United States and Israel used a program of this type to disable an Iranian nuclear facility.

It behooves us to spend more money on cyber security and offensive cyber warfare capability. However, there is another aspect to this problem. We must go back to a time before the internet. We would do well to learn the skill set we had before we had computers. It may be our best chance for survival.

As always, thanks for your time.

About the Author

James R. Campbell, 61, is poet and writer living with total blindness. He has a Bachelor’s in psychology. He has written articles for the Matilda Ziegler Magazine and Consumervision. A a member of Behind our Eyes, Campbell has three poem collections on CD. They can be downloaded at In his free time, he likes cooking, playing harmonica, reptiles, and keeping up with current events.

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