John, an American undergraduate while browsing the cyber space received a signal of an incoming e-mail on his laptop screen. No sooner than he opened the e-mail the computer crashed and he could not open any mail. A little later a message flashed on the screen.
It read thus: “Your computer is being cyber-attacked. To unlock your computer e-mail pay 300 dollars to us. No sooner than you send it the computer would get rebooted.” In no time John realized what had happened. Many of his friends told him over the phone that they also received similar messages. John came to know that many countries were being cyber-attacked simultaneously.
This was not an isolated incident. Two hundred thousand computers in about 150 countries world over had been hacked similarly.
This disaster evidently shows the modern advancement of technology has boomeranged on man. This modern super digital age has brought both benefits and misfortunes to the mankind.
Vice Chairman of Google Windsurf once lamented that a dark digital era had dawned on us. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, was disappointed over the misuse of the Internet by governments and other individuals to interfere and upset the private life of the public.
In this digital era, the whole world is connected in a single network. So, what occurs in one location affects the rest of the whole world instantly. By this recent cyber attack many countries like the United Kingdom, America, Russia, China, Italy, France and many more countries were affected. Russia and China have been the worst victims.
Many computer systems of the state and private institutions were disabled by this virus in addition to millions of personal computers. In England, the health service system of 48 hospitals and 13 hospitals in Scotland were crippled. The technicians of Malware Tech of England who responded immediately to minimize the damage warn to take precautions in other vulnerable countries to prevent such cyber attacks.
Russian President Putin was in China to attend the international summit ‘One Belt, One Road’ when the cyber attack took place. Putin accuses America is behind this attack. America and Russia have accused each other for cyber attacks since the recently concluded American presidential election. Whatever Putin’s accusation, the bottom line is the software used for this cyber attack was invented by the American National Agency. A hacker team called Shadow Brokers last April warned the world that a virus called Eternal Blue would be pirated and released to the Internet after hacking the security system. Nevertheless, Shadow Brokers had kept their word as promised.
Hilary Clinton as well as former president Barak Obama accused Russia of launching a cyber attack against Hilary Clinton during the last presidential election campaign. A few days back, President Donald Trump sacked FBI chief over this controversy. Some suspect the FBI chief was sent home to undermine the investigation against Russia. FBI might have engineered this attack with the help of a hacker group as the FBI officials are not very happy over the Russian involvements in American affairs. Putin seems to be not much worried about this attack. There are suspicions that whether a small group of hackers could be capable of such a massive attack.
This attacked occurred while China was holding an international summit in Beijing together with other nations in an attempt to consolidate its influence as a super power. The attack might have been targeted at this summit. India, Italy and America declined to participate at the summit. China’s aim is to revive the old Silk Route overland and by sea to connect Asia, Europe and African Continents.
China also extensively suffered by the cyber attack crippling official work considerably. The Western media points the accusing finger at North Korea. BBC web reporter on technologies quoting IT experts’ opine that the virus used for this attack has many similarities to the virus used in North Korea in their cyber attacks. At present, the relations of North Korea with America and European countries are strained. The tension between Korea and these countries are on the rise. So, the suspecting of North Korea is seemingly justifiable in this context.
As the hackers demanded 300 dollars to restore the service, some suspect that it may be a cyber ransom. Experts advise not to pay any ransom though some have already paid for reconnection.
The British National Institute on Crimes says adolescents are prone to cyber crimes mainly due to the fun of it or to make mischief rather than to commit a cyber crime.
As any one is free to surf cyber space, there is a lot of room for people to commit cyber crimes due to the lack of regulatory mechanism.
Now, the political tension among World Super Powers is escalating to unprecedented levels. Soon cyber phobia may become worse than nuclear phobia. On the one hand, cyber space has become a powerful weapon in power struggle.
On the other hand, some suspects the cyber attacks are planned ploys by giant computer manufacturers to boost the sale of their antivirus software.
The bottom line is to safeguard the national security of countries like ours a comprehensive national plan is essential and it is high time to establish an operational unit to monitor cyber activities.
(Translated by Ananda Elkaduwa)