Did the Israelis do it? is the big question. A powerful virus called Flame wiped out Iran’s communication network to its oil rigs shutting down crude oil exports. Computer hackers back in 1983 already played War Games, showing how breaching a firewall to US defence agencies could lead to a major war.
While hacking in this day and age could be perceived as something that leads to a benevolent end, like shutting down Iran’s nuclear systems long enough to set them back by months, we have to wonder what’s better, or worse, for the planet – bombs or binary code?
If you are smart, you have probably invested in a full disk encryption service for your small business, like one powered by the Israeli software company Checkpoint. If not, you might be leaving your hard-won business to the hands of online predators. But if Flame is as powerful as the predictors say, we could all be vulnerable one day.
If the Israelis did it or not, Flame is supposed to be a very powerful virus. And it’s scary especially now that we carry our smart phones as computers everywhere we go. According to the Washington Post, “A strike by the powerful ‘Flame’ malware that experts this week have called a new and highly sophisticated program capable of hauling away computer files and even listening in on computer users. Its origins remain a mystery, but international suspicion quickly fell on Israel opening another front in its suspected covert wars with archenemy Tehran.”
Just think though how much productivity is lost in your household when you have to deal with a security breach, even by some small virus in an email attachment you opened that threatens to erase your holiday photos at the Western Wall. When we look at companies –– Rupert Murdoch lost nearly half a billion dollars in one security scandal, and ebusinesses like Amazon can expect to lose half a million dollars for every hour they are down. When we are talking breaches to millions of credit card users the loss of productivity starts to multiply. When hackers enter into government services, military and defense units the cost can be quantified in the millions and billions but just think of all the extras that burden the environment with every breach?
The Shabbat is a good thing for the ecosystem of every family, business, community, and in the case of Israel, country. But without planning, a cyber attack on major systems is like a tornado on climate change wiping out a peaceful forest. While forest fires are needed occasionally to spur new growth, hacking your archenemies just seems to buy time as people waste resources and time trying to repair the damage caused.
This Green Prophet sees cyber attacking in the same league as other wars on this planet. The immediate results might not be bloody and dirty, but the fallout to the environment could be much worse. What happens if an Iranian oil rig loses important systems measures that keeps its rig pumping safely? We could see another BP-scale disaster, this time in the Gulf.
Will we hip-hip-hooray because the enemy was set back, lost valuable income? Or will we understand that all large scale conflicts when resolved in non-peaceful ways can lead to a loss of life and biodiversity? I don’t care if you attack oil rigs in Iran, Iceland or Israel. I care about this planet, and the latest waves of cyber attacks are something that all environmentalists should be worried about – no matter what passport you hold.