Yesterday I wrote about the ability of Chinese hackers to break into and take secrets ranging from plans for a fighter jet to fingerprints. It’s not just the Chinese that have the ability to hack to such a high level. Every advanced nation on the planet has the ability to hack into the systems of foreign nations, it’s just a matter of some of them being better at it than others.
Although China and Russia are currently sabre-rattling and attempting to reassert themselves on the world stage it may not be a shooting war they are after.
Why would they be, they would take losses just like any other country involved in a physical altercation.
Just imagine if you could subjugate another nation without bloodshed. If you could bring them to their knees, bend them to your will without invading – at least in the first instance.
By hacking into a foreign nations infrastructure systems you could do just that. Hacking into the military computers of somewhere like the Pentagon would also allow you to not only know where the military are but what weaponry they hold and their capabilities.
Why not just launch an EMP attack ? or if you want information before you wipe out the capabilities of your target nation, a major cyber attack?
I believe that the wars of the future will be cyber wars, conducted in a dimension whose only physical manifestation is a computer.
Computers and the electricity they require to power them are responsible for running our everyday lives. Hack those computers and then turn off the power and you have a country that is rapidly sinking to it’s knees, no matter how powerful they were before.
Like it or not our reliance on electricity is complete. So much so that some estimate 99% of the population would be dead within a year if the power permanently went off. I don’t know about that, seems rather too high if I’m honest. People lived for thousands of years without power and would do so again if they had to.
Yes, there would be a mass die off as the sick passed on, no longer able to get the medical care and medication that keeps them alive.
Cold would take care of the vulnerable that have no way of heating their homes and starvation would kill a few million as supermarket shelves are no longer re-stocked due to logistical issues and less food production across the board.
If that would amount to 99% of the population I have no idea but a few tens of millions yes.
So what could be accomplished by a high level infrastructure hack attack? Well, anything you want really, the possibilities are almost endless.
Having hacked into the required systems the ‘war’ would begin. Initially the target country would be in turmoil. The average citizen would have no idea at all what’s going on. As communications would be down there would be no way of knowing if it was a local or more widespread outage, few would suspect it was a national crisis.
Once the grid is under someone else control it’s game over, it really is that simple. Water, transport, nuclear power stations, hospitals, schools, government…all of it goes. Once the back up generators are out of fuel that’s it, job done.
Yes there will be some who have solar set ups but they aren’t big enough to run a country, especially a large country.
Would there be
blackmail trade-offs involved? Who knows? but it’s possible. Maybe power to nuclear plants in exchange for cash, pulling out of a conflict, giving up sovereignty.
Maybe the attacking government just wants to see the demise of a country they regard as a major threat and they will just leave them literally power-less and let nature take it’s course once they are no longer a threat.
There’s no way of knowing what the agenda would be. We wouldn’t be blasted back to the Stone Age as some commentators suggest, we have too much knowledge for that, we have evolved and are more intellectually capable of problem solving than the cave men were. We would however face massive problems. We have lost the skills that our grandparents and great grandparents had. We, for the most part are not used to manual labour, the vast majority of the population in the west have no idea how to grow food and raise and slaughter animals themselves.
Makes you think doesn’t it?
If we are destined to be left in the dark there is little we can do as individuals to stop it, that’s something that’s way above our pay grade. There are things we can do to though to make sure we survive and even thrive in such a situation:
- Read about the old ways, find out how things were done before Edison flicked the switch for the first time.
- Find courses or make contact with others doing the same, share knowledge and learn the skills for real.
- Regardless of how little space you have you can get a garden going, even if that garden is pots along a window sill. Look for common spaces that could lend themselves to food production if you don’t have a space of your own. However much food you store it will eventually run out.
- Learn a craft skill, knitting, sewing or crochet will allow you to clothe yourself by altering or making what you need.
- Take a first aid course and put together a decent kit that can get you through many emergencies.
- Find your inner McGuyver and look at other uses for the things you have. Read this and this and even this to get a few ideas.
- Look how people in less developed countries live their lives. A zeer pot is a good example of off-grid refrigeration.
- Aside from the obvious, food and water think of what else you may need if you could no longer go to the shops. Scary isn’t it?
- Make sure you have at least a rudimentary collection of manual tools for home maintenance.
- Work out how to minimise sickness and disease – how would you dispose of waste for example?
There are dozens more ideas that could go on the list, some will be applicable to most people some just to you and your family. Think carefully about how you would handle a long term grid down situation and take as many steps as you can to mitigate some of the effects, it really is all you can do.