When I was in University, viruses were a new concept. Worms, trojan, malicious code were just taking off. That was in the mid eighties.
Being a software person, those things used to excite me, setting my adrenaline gushing. Ferreting out how a virus performs its trick was a challenge that put me on cerebral overdrive, and made me spend many a weekend analyzing maliciously sneaky code. .
How time has flown!
Perhaps you were a wizard in your time writing viruses to infect desktop computers, for kicks, or for wickedness? Or, possibly, writing antiviruses to counter them, and making fortunes, like the John McAfees of this world?
Fast forward to today, and we have a new class of malware
While RansomWare is not a new concept, their applicability is spreading in ways that could actually threaten, nay, annihilate humanity. You think that’s melodrama ? Let’s dissect this.
This is an era of the connected everything , the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, smart this, Smart that .. All of these devices run on, and derive their functionality / versatility from software. Almost everything you can think of now runs software, and connects to the internet, and are thus susceptible to hacking.
And that’s where the problem is.
When a device runs an operating system, a hacker can write software to literally zero in on the brain of the system, and do pretty much, anything. And, that can be scary.
Like someone graphically painted, Imagine –
You’re about to drive to work. You turn on the ignition – and a message on the dash lights up. “We’ve hacked your car! Pay 50 dollars to get it back.”
A situation like this may not be that far in the future, as we have actually had hackers take over vehicles in the past, and do interesting things, as a proof of concept. Things would get more sophisticated
Now SmartTvs are being affected by ransomware too, which means, just about any (household) device that’s software controlled can be compromised by the Bad Guys to milk you, or to maim you.
Now imagine a hacker interfering with the software regulating you Cardiac Pacemaker and other critical life support systems like nuclear weaponry systems, and causing serious damage.
Yes, technology is useful. Very useful. But it’s scary all right.