Losing the plot
THE cyber-attacks that have emerged in recent weeks have begun to sound like a screenplay. One unknown adversary destroys a German blast furnace by interfering with the computers that control it. An attack by the “Guardians of Peace” on Sony Pictures wipes its computers, loots its intellectual property and humiliates its bosses by publishing their private e-mails (see article). Another group called Lizard Squad ruins Christmas for millions by swamping video-game networks.
But these attacks were all too real, and reality is messier than fiction. Businesses and governments now face troubling questions. The Federal Bureau of Investigation quickly blamed North Korea for the attack on Sony, which had made a comedy featuring the assassination of that country’s leader. Barack Obama vowed retaliation, and North Korea’s internet connection has since crashed twice. But the evidence produced was weak. Many computer-security experts think it more likely the culprits were disgruntled employees, gangsters or pranksters. It is sobering to think that the world’s greatest nuclear power and the trigger-happy regime in Pyongyang could be brought into confrontation by a motley array of mischief-makers.