TOO EASY: FBI reveals Anonymous hacks government computers at will
Anonymous campaign hints at the future of conflict.
Anonymous has been hacking into government databases and stealing information in a year-long campaign, according to the FBI. The latest attack by the hacktivists occurred as recently as last month.
Hacktivists have been exploiting known flaws in Adobe System's software in use on government networks and installing secret "back doors" which allows them to reenter the networks later.
An FBI memo describes the attacks as "a widespread problem." The memo indicates that Anonymous has breached security at the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, among other agencies.
The FBI is alerting government agencies, saying they know what to look for and that agencies should take care to determine if their systems are also compromised. The FBI did not detail what agencies should be looking for.
Naturally, the government has an obligation to protect sensitive data. Medical data must be safeguarded by federal law (HIPPA). If the computers at the DHHS are compromised, then the government must do more to safeguard and protect them, or else the government should not be trusted with such personal data.
While computer hacking has been around since there have been computer networks, in recent years hackers have coalesced into loose affiliations that occasionally combine efforts between large numbers of individuals to gain attention and effect change. When hackers come together for a single cause, they are referred to as hacktavists-a play on the word, activists.
Anonymous is likely the world's largest hacktivist collective, but it isn't organized. There are no membership cards, and nobody-yet everybody is Anonymous. Anyone who participates in opposition in some way is Anonymous.
What Anonymous does matters. The world is becoming increasingly reliant on computers and networks, which we are integrating into our very homes and weaving into the fabric of our lives. Warfare, for example, will be much different in the 21st century. For example, what need is there for a strategic bombing campaign, a-la-WWII, when you can more easily destroy an entire power grid or water supply with a series of keystrokes from the comfort of an underground bunker, or even a house? Instead of being killed, the people themselves become the weapons, in need of food, water, sanitation, yet deprived of it by the millions as a result of a cyber-attack. This is the future of warfare.
For technological societies, the rifle will finally give way to the computer interface.
Meanwhile, the ongoing attacks should make every American question whether or not we are ready to trust the government with our medical data, among other information, assuming they're not harvesting it already via the NSA.
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