Regardless if you believe North Korea were the culprits or not, everyone will acknowledge that since the Sony hack, we’ve all started to take cyber terrorism a little more seriously. You mean they don’t just want financial details and government intelligence? No, that’s right, terrorists are creative and now the whole world is hooked up to the internet, they’ve got plenty of targets to choose from.
Political hacking has become the latest and greatest terrorist threat with Sony Pictures being the first high-profile attack to make us all sit up and pay attention. I mean we all knew the NSA had more knowledge and power than they were letting on, but we didn’t quite realise how vulnerable we were to the rest of the planet.
Since Sony, the cyber security experts have basically been falling over themselves to tell us about all the other political hacking cyber groups out there; Russians, Iranians, North Koreans, Syrians, ISIS; every country or terrorist group we’ve long known to be against the west is now exploiting the internet as their latest weapon. Airports are on high alert, power stations are scrambling to toughen up their security, international banks are playing war games and movie company execs are no longer using email to bad-mouth their talent.
So why has political hacking taken so long to hit the headlines this hard? Basically, the target of the attack makes all the difference. No doubt governments, intelligence agencies and so forth have been under attack for some time, but it’s not exactly something they’d want to publicise. What the Sony Pictures hackers did was smart; they utilised the media, making their attack more powerful. Hollywood is very much the face of America, at least culturally speaking, so threatening an entertainment corporation and revealing its dirty secrets was bound to generate a huge amount of media attention, increasing the pressure to pull The Interview, which is precisely what the hackers wanted.
The motivations of the hackers is another point which distinguishes this political hack from the many others which have surely come before it. We’d usually expect politically motivated hacks to be carried out in the search for government intelligence, not to have a movie pulled. We’ve got to wonder what else they might want to control.
What’s for sure is that everyone needs to remain alert and maximise their security. Whether it’s malware received through an email, a DDoS attack on a website or something as basic as SQL Injection giving them access, all aspects of security need to be considered.