By Anthony S. Policastro
When I started researching my thriller/mystery about digital terrorists, DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM
in 2005, I found that many security experts were talking about cyber threats and the possibility that organized hackers could take down the any major US infrastructure like telecommunications or the power grid. But their concerns went unheeded mainly because the mindset was that things that went on in cyberspace didn't affect things in the physical world.
But the technology was there and in place only the human part of the equation had not yet caught up with it. As technical novelist and visionary William Gibson wrote, "The future has already arrived, it is just not widely distributed."
But, when I Googled specific incidents that I read about on the Internet, there was little or no press on them. Just unofficial sources of information. But my instinct told me the threats were real and they had occurred.
The truth was that many companies, governments and organizations that had been hacked kept it secret. They didn't want the world to know as well as other hackers that their computer networks could be breached.
The problems have been escalating significantly since 2005 as more and more of our daily lives depend on the Internet.
Just last week The New York Times
and other major media reported that Google asked the NSA (National Security Agency, the super secret agency that is charged with global electronic surveillance) to look into "computer network attackers who breached the company’s cybersecurity defenses last year, a person with direct knowledge of the agreement said Thursday," according to a report on Feb. 4 by The New York Times
Google said the attacks originated in China, according to The Times and this is not the first time US government agencies, corporations and major infrastructures like the power grid and water treatment facilities have reported cyber attacks from China.
The Times article further reported that,
"Concerns about the nation’s cybersecurity have greatly increased in the past two years. On Tuesday, Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, began his annual threat testimony before Congress by saying that the threat of a crippling attack on telecommunications and other computer networks was growing, as an increasingly sophisticated group of enemies had 'severely threatened' the sometimes fragile systems behind the country’s information infrastructure.
'Malicious cyberactivity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication,' he told the committee."
I wrote DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM with the hopes that my storyline would shed light on the increasing threats in cyberspace and how those threats could disrupt more than our connections to the Internet. I also wrote about the human drama involving a family and how it would play into such a tragedy if one were to happen.
And what is scary about such an attack is that there is no warning - it just happens as quickly and completely as turning a light off in a room.
I just hope a major breach in our computer systems never happens and that DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM
will shed some light on this ominous, invisible threat that could seriously disrupt our way of life.
If you want to experience first hand a plausible, possible scenario of what could happen if the US infrastructure is compromised by digital terrorists read DARK END OF THE SPECTRUM, available from Amazon, and bookstores everywhere. The ebook is available from Smashwords.com, the Kindle, the Nook and Mobipocket.com