Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: The Underbelly of the First World

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Amazingly, in the 21 years since the World Wide Web source code was released to the public domain, humans have more than found a balance of living life in the physical and digital worlds. The globe has benefited tremendously from the advancements, but this Wisdom.Applied Wednesday, we’re discussing how disastrous that power—like any—can be in the wrong hands.

Everything from our banks and businesses to our food sources and water supplies are dependent on energy and power driven by technology; in that sense, the Internet doesn’t just add to the quality of life, but it’s necessary to sustain the population. Certainly, the real world and the cyber world now hold interdependent relationships for both groups and individuals. Unfortunately, the delicate interdependence has exposed a weakness for our enemies in the world—from malicious hackers to terrorists and foreign powers.

Through keyboard strokes and mouse clicks, attackers threaten data, personal information and even lives. Although this sounds like Sci-Fi, conceivably every single person on the planet is vulnerable to cyber attacks in one form or another.

As USA Today pointed out, recent power outages and natural disasters have been wakeup calls. When the power grids go out, the underbelly of America takes a direct hit, impacting everything from pumping gas to heating homes (generators won’t do much without gas).

In the beginning of 2013, which was anticipated to be the year of the “Cyber War,” the topic made big news in media outlets. CNN put Cyber War on the watch list, reporting thatAmerican companies are the most “at risk” targets for cyber warfare. In 2012, congress noted that banks, stock exchanges, nuclear power plants and water purification systems are also particularly vulnerable.

While the cyber war buzz has mostly cleared from mainstream media and from the American conscience. Recently, hacks like Heartbleed, AOL and Internet Explorer have thrown several Internet users into a panic. And with the Russian/Ukrainian conflict continuing, the United States might find itself a victim of a cyber warfare attack.

Russia, said to be the second most capable cyber warfare country behind the U.S., has already exercised these types of attacks in the past on Georgia and Crimea. With Russia outraged at America’s sanctions over Ukraine, intelligence officials fear Russia could react towards America with cyber warfare, according to USA Today.

However, several analysts believe that these events (including the loss of lives) are unlikely to happen, but the fact that the dependence exists is quite a scary thought.

Are you afraid of cyber warfare? Tell us in the comments!

Cover Photo Source: Jannis Tobias Werner / Shutterstock.com

Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.