Rent-A-Botnet Free Cloud-Based Servers May Encourage Cyber Warfare

August 11, 2015
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As the Internet has become an integral part of our economic and personal lives, hackers have found new ways to exploit the technologies that promote and support it. Google, Heroku, Cloud Foundry, Cloud Bees and other hosting providers make it possible to host applications with nothing more than an email address. This scenario gives hackers the option to auto-generate thousands of email addresses, and create free accounts for these services. The servers can then be used for a number of cyber attacks.

As the Internet has become an integral part of our economic and personal lives, hackers have found new ways to exploit the technologies that promote and support it. Google, Heroku, Cloud Foundry, Cloud Bees and other hosting providers make it possible to host applications with nothing more than an email address. This scenario gives hackers the option to auto-generate thousands of email addresses, and create free accounts for these services. The servers can then be used for a number of cyber attacks.

The hackers of today no longer work in isolation. They are working for large governments, corporations, organizations and political groups that wish to damage and disrupt the operations of their rivals and competitors. In 2008, during the military struggles in Georgia, many suspect that the Russian government attacked or encouraged attacks on the websites of the nation of Georgia. In 2014, five Chinese military officials were indicted in the United States for computer hacking and espionage.

Botnets used require the installation of software on a network of thousands of computers. Hackers had to ensure that the software was undetectable, and they had to put in the work necessary to get the software installed on the computers. With free cloud-based servers, it’s possible for hackers to quickly sign up and deploy their bots quickly and efficiently. The future of warfare is happening now, and it’s coming to us through fiberoptic cables, remote data centers and anonymous hackers that use cloud-based servers instead of home computers to launch attacks.

Cyber warfare extends beyond the virtual and can have a real-life impact on the lives of real people. It’s not impractical to assume that within the next 10 years, a widespread attack will be launched against a nation and its people. This attack can result in widespread harm that results in a loss of life or property with a financial impact of billions of dollars. Consider a cyber attack where a nation’s transportation system is controlled by an external group of hackers, and you can begin to see how a scenario could unfold that is scarier than the prospect of nuclear detonations.

Free servers can be used to heist intellectual property, infiltrate infrastructures and jeopardize high profile individuals email accounts and personal data. With the large emphasis on virtual money held by banks, the danger of a bank heist that occurs entirely online is an ever-increasing danger.

Nations and companies that want to protect themselves need to continually increase their abilities to deal with advanced persistent threats. Many experts believe that the only way to deter cyber warfare is to develop the technology to launch attacks on a more equal footing around the world. If smaller nations have the same capabilities to launch attacks as larger nations, it levels the playing field and makes it less likely that any single nation would risk a mutually assured disruption of destruction of property and life.

Nations are currently engaged in a cyber arms race, and massive companies like Google are making it possible for smaller nations to access resources that might not otherwise be available. A hacker used to need the latest technology, hardware and a complex system of firewalls to prevent detection. Now, all a hacker has to do is log in to a free server with thousands of automatically generated email accounts, and a carefully designed program or virus. The threat of a single brilliant individual or group bringing down an entire nation is becoming increasingly more likely. Of course, there are detractors, Dave Kissoondoyal, CEO for KMP Global, states, “I would not say that a major cyber attack will have caused widespread harm to a nation’s security and capacity to defend itself and its people, but the risks will be there. By 2025, there will be widespread use of cyber terrorism and countries will spend a lot of money on cyber security.”

Much of the damage caused by cyber warfare won’t occur overnight. It will be the result of prolonged campaigns that ramp up slowly over time. For example, utility companies may lose pennies on the dollar over the course of several years. The losses will be seen as a cost of doing business rather than the result of an ongoing cyber attack. The cost may get passed on to taxpayers. Even if a government has the ability and knowledge to defend itself in these instances, it may not be politically possible to pass legislation that protects individuals and companies. The main issue involved with protecting a nation’s interests may be with the lack of legislation and mobility to address the problems associated with cyber warfare. Even if a government can protect itself, it may not be able to in this context.