Iran is having serious computer difficulties from a malicious bit of computer code dubbed, Stuxnet. Among other things, it seems to be attacking the machinery used to control nuclear plants.
So what, you may be thinking. What has this got to do with me? Isn't it better to have nuke plants taken off-line by a computer worm than by fighter bombers with the Star of David on the tail fins?
Maybe, maybe not.
One of the problems with malicious code is the way it spreads. Maybe Iran may have been the target, but Pakistan, India, Indonesia and China also seem to be particularly hard hit. It has spread all around world; even to the US. Computer viruses are as uncontrollable as their biological versions. Mankind has recognized the hazards of biological warfare. We may learn the perils of bad code aren't to be taken lightly either.
Is a computer attack an act of war? Sure it is. Anything that damages the infrastructure of another country is an act of war. Countries being severely affected may certainly feel that way. Finding themselves under cyber attack, they may feel justified in counter attacking using conventional forces.
There are some disturbing elements to Stuxnet. It's a sophisticated program that may have required the resources of a state to construct. Should that state ever be identified, its leaders will lose a lot of sleep worrying about reprisals.
It's not the first time countries have been under cyper attack. Estonia and the country of Georgia have been victims of computer assault. In both cases, Russia was the prime suspect. However, computer code rarely leaves easily followed footprints back to its maker.
One of the dangers of this cyber attack is the threat of cyber reprisals. Many countries in the world have the talent and tools to fight on that battlefield. Imagine the possible collateral damage. The whole Internet could be rendered dangerous and unreliable. Our computer managed world could suffer major disruptions. Since much of the world's infrastructure is controlled over the Internet, times could get really hairy. Imagine, just for starters, power, communications, water, sewer, banking, and transportation systems breaking down.
What actions can a prudent person take? There are the normal ones that serve in everything from floods, to hurricanes, to earthquakes and snowstorms. Have some food and water stored up. Be able to make some of your own power or have battery powered radios and flashlights. Have a general disaster plan and kit. Would not be a bad idea to have some cash ready in case the ATMs go down.
I'm not predicting that an escalating cyber war is going to take place. However, a real cyber attack is going on, and there is the possibility for things to get much much worse.
Good time to take stock of your preps. How could you handle computer and Internet failure, along with all related systems?