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Four Cyber Threats for 2011

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Internet Superweapons to Facebook Crimes, Security Experts Predict New Web Attacks

In late 2010, a new kind of computer worm attacked an Iranian nuclear facility and so altered the course of cyber warfare that the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs marked the attack as the beginning of a new era: The Age of Stuxnet.

 

And while the Stuxnet worm may be the most identifiable, ominous new threat to cyber security as the new year begins, security experts have predicted 2011 will also be a year of dynamic shifts in online threats in other areas, including social media and political “hacktivism.”

Here are the top four security concerns that cyber experts see coming over the digital horizon:

 

Cyber War’s Newest Superweapon: Stuxnet and Copycats

Stuxnet was first discovered in July 2010 by a security firm in Belarus, but didn’t make global headlines until months later when Iranian state media announced the Middle East nation had been the target of a coordinated attack.

The worm was “the first of its kind, written to specifically target mission-critical control systems running a specific combination of software and hardware,” a Department of Homeland Security official told ABC News.

But experts said the worm is not limited to any single type of target and can be altered to attack several key components of any nation’s infrastructure, from electricity grids to oil rigs.

“The idea that a piece of malicious code can target physical systems and create real-world impacts is something that’s been speculated in the industry for quite some time and certainly was largely understood to be possible. Stuxnet was the first widespread implementation of that kind of attack,” Ben Greenbaum, senior research manager for cyber security firm Symantec, told ABC News.

Symantec’s number one prediction for 2011 was increased cyber attacks on critical infrastructures just like the nuclear facility in Iran, and Stuxnet is only the beginning. Read more…

Earth May be Uninhabitable for Future Generations

January 19, 2011 Comments off

Humans are in danger of making large parts of the Earth uninhabitable for thousands of years because of man made climate change, according to new evidence based on geological records.

The US study predicted that if society continues burning fossil fuels at the current rate, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide could rise from the current level of 390 parts per million (ppm) to 1,000 by the end of this century.

The last time the world had such high levels of carbon dioxide temperatures were on average 29F(16C) above pre-industrial levels. Evidence has been found of crocodiles and palm trees at the Poles and only small mammals were able to survive.

Jeffrey Kiehl, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), who carried out the study, said the Earth could return to such temperatures over hundreds or even thousands of years.

But unlike last time, when it happened over millions of years, temperatures will rise too fast for species to adapt and change.

In the short term he said temperatures could rise by more than 10.8F (6C) by the end of the century, which will also wipe out species.

“This is happening at such a rate how will species, including humans, respond? The implications for the biosphere is of great concern.”

Dr Kiehl not only looked at geological records but also computer models to predict what will happen if carbon dioxide levels rise at such a rate.

He included ‘feed back factors’, such as melting sea ice, methane released from thawing permafrost and Amazon die-back.

This showed that temperatures will increase much faster than previously thought as a result of rising carbon dioxide.

“If we don’t start seriously working toward a reduction of carbon emissions, we are putting our planet on a trajectory that the human species has never experienced,” he said. “We will have committed human civilization to living in a different world for multiple generations.”

Dr Kiehl hit back at critics who claim that acting on climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels will upset the world order.

“A truly conservative position is to conserve what we have, to not radically change things and if we do not want to radically change the environment then the conservative approach is to conserve the Earth as the human species has known it ever since we have been around on this planet.”