A cyberattack on a shared data network forced four of the natural-gas pipeline operators to temporarily shut down computer communications with their customers over the last week. I know this is not a cheery thought to start the weekend but, unfortunately, it is a reality of how vulnerable we have become in our interconnected world.
The motivation for such an effort appeared to be the increase in exports of liquified natural gas from the United States, a challenge to Russian dominance in European markets. The Department of Homeland Security was investigating the attack, and no suspect has been publicly identified . But the attack came shortly after the Department and the F.B.I. issued a report alleging that Russia was taking aim at the U.S. electric grid and other critical infrastructure with cyber probes.
And I thought that Putin and Trump were the best of friends?
Oh, the irony. “Apple, which has been criticized in recent years for failing to pay outside hackers who report bugs in its products, said on Thursday that it would begin offering a so-called bug bounty to technologists who alert the company to flaws.” As you might remember, the lack of an Apple bug bounty program made headlines earlier this year when the F.B.I. announced that it had paid hackers more than $1 million for a back-door into Apple’s iPhone. If you are a hacker you may be happy to learn that Apple will pay as much as $200,000 to flag critical problems. I know that’s down from the $1 million that they paid to solve the iPhone problem, but maybe there are just more hackers out there now to make it a more competitive?
Hackers have now entered the political arena. “Hackers for Hillary” recently held a fund-raiser where tickets were going from $100 to $2,700. According to event organizers, the fund-raiser focused on “cyber policy issues the next administration faces.” A number of researchers recently suggested that the Democratic National Committee was hacked by two Russian intelligence groups in what they believed was a campaign aimed at hurting Mrs. Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
I guess you could call all this “hacking for dollars” or “hacking for political power.” But this hacking of our tech industry and our political processes has enormous consequences world-wide.