The Environmental Cost of Flame Computer Hacking

umbrella data storm, raining hacking computers security

Forget about the hours you spend trying to clean your hard drive from some malicious virus that’s trying to wipe out your hard drive. You have your virus protector on, maybe have even gone further and found a good hard disk encryption service that protects your small business. But be on the alert: Cyber attacks now are becoming more and more virulent, putting millions of people’s personal data at risk.

We are seeing a rash of cyber attacks now in the Middle East. Iran attacks Israel. Israel attacks Iran. Or Israel attacks itself. The latest is a breach on communications systems on Iranian oil rigs called “Flame”: a complex virus cut off internet to the all the country’s crude oil exports. Other attacks have been to damage or disable Iranian nuclear systems.

According to Businessweek the results are scary: “Flame can monitor keystrokes, steal passwords, turn on victims’ microphones to record conversations, and take screenshots of Internet sessions. It’s able to send the captured information to so-called command-and-control servers around the world and receive software updates from them. It’s essentially a permanent desktop spy.”

With the stakes high –– control systems for energy and military systems can be hacked and breached, hacking is the new form of modern warfare, something that started reaching our consciousness with the movie War Games in 1983.

But the way things are shaping up today the characters and consequences seem to be more from a superhero movie, but it’s not always easy know who’s good and who’s bad when it comes to the environmental impact of cyber warfare.

If you are Rupert Murdoch, the cost to your pocket can be monumental –– about 239 million pounds.

Richard Power from the Computer Security Institute says if you’re running a major ebusiness and are making $600,000 an hour, then denial of service is more than half a million dollars for every hour you are down.

What this means really is that companies, if you consider them ecosystems, lose productivity and network operation time. While I like the Jewish idea of rest once a week on the Sabbath, where all business goes down, and devices too are powered down, it’s done in a controlled way with planning and foresight. Disruptive hacking is more like a tornado mixed with extreme climate change in an otherwise peaceful forest. It takes much more effort and resources to rebuild what was lost in order for companies to start operating again where they left off.

Cyber war or traditional war with rockets? What do you think is better for the planet?

Image of data storm from Shutterstock

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