Do you have a clue how electricity gets from the wires to our hair straightener to a bill in the mail box?  How gas gets into our car at the gas pumps and on to our debit card?  How food gets on the grocery store shelves from off site warehouses? How money goes from our bank accounts and pops out of an ATM machine?

Computers.  All computers.

Just about everything in our existence is run by computers these days.  Yes, even your car unless you are driving something pre-1970ish.  That’s a pretty scary thought. 

If the computer system goes down you most likely won’t be able to get gas, your money out of the bank or ATM machine, or buy food at the grocery store (just to list a few) unless you have cash – and even then it may be iffy.  Without computers, the world would stop as we know it.  There would be people just walking around stunned not knowing what to do; debit card in hand. 

Let me ask a question.  How many times in a week do you pull out your debit card for gas, food, entertainment?  It’s a whole lot easier than carrying cash.  Right?  Or is it?  If the bank’s computer system goes down – which I’m sure you have experienced at one time or another when they are doing their “up-dating and the computers are off-line” it is disabling.  We are just accustom to whipping that card out at our every whim.     

Remember the Y2K scare and the 'end of the world as we know it' speculation that didn't happen?? 

Well the reason nothing happened was years in advance the whole world knew the event was coming. And, through careful planning and preparation the disaster was averted and virtually all potential business disruptions became non-events.

Ladies, did you hear what I said?  The world planned and prepared a head of time.

Had this disaster happened, we would have had a worldwide catastrophe. Everything would have stopped.  All air transportation. All cash registers.  All banking systems.  Anything and everything that is run by computers would have just stopped.

The reason I bring all this up is that it appears lately there has been an increased risk of cyber-attacks aimed at businesses or intended to cause economic disruption to the United States (not the world – the good ol’ U.S of A.)  

The difference between Y2K and these disrupting threats is that we knew ahead of time exactly when the incident would occur for Y2K – at midnight December 31, 1999 -January 1, 2000.

According to National Intelligence, cyber attacks are a growing threat to the United States, and malicious cyber activity is occurring on an unprecedented scale with extraordinary sophistication.

Just think of the importance of the Internet and the communications infrastructure to our government, the economy and society.  Remember we all are reliant on computers.

From what I’ve gathered, these threats are multifaceted and come from nation states, terrorist networks, organized criminal groups, individuals, and other cyber actors with varying combinations of access, technical sophistication and intent with the capabilities to target elements of the US information infrastructure for intelligence collection, intellectual property theft, or disruption. 

As you can see we are not dealing with the brainy-student hacking into data banks for the fun of it.  These are terrorist threats - meant to do harm.

So how do we stop these threats like we did for Y2K?

Simply stated.  We don't.  We can’t. 

It would be like swinging a bat in the dark.  We don’t know when or where or who.  Attackers, if they are well-motivated and well-funded, as state-sponsored attacks would likely be, will always have a bit of the upper hand over defenders.

So what do we do?  Wait until it happens or start preparing ourselves now for yet another catastrophic event that could happen – in our near future? 

Consider this your “ahead of time” warning.

- Survivor Jane

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