“A fleet of fighter planes is not necessary to attack a power station; a keyboard is sufficient, according to University of Haifa Dr. Yaniv Levyatan, an expert on information warfare. “If you don't have the skills, there are enough mercenary hackers who can do it for you," he adds.
"Carry out all my demands or the entire country's electricity will be cut off" is not just another line from a suspense film, but it is a palpable threat made possible with a computer keyboard,” Dr. Levyatan explains. "Today, there is a growing trend amongst hackers around the world to threaten national infrastructures for ransom.
He notes Brazil's electricity was mysteriously blacked out for more than an hour late November. "It is still not clear what happened, but one assumption is that it was a cyber-terror attack," he suggests. Dr. Levyatan adds that in 2007, Estonia's computer infrastructures were attacked, most likely by Russian hackers, bringing the country to a near standstill for about 48 hours.
"To date, most of the 'online fighting' has focused on attempts to vandalize and immobilize leading websites to impose a virtual presence and damage morale,” he adds. “For example, during the Second Lebanon War, Israeli and Hezbollah-supporting hackers were at ‘war’ as each side attempted to damage and immobilize each other's websites. Likewise, during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, many Israeli websites were attacked by Hamas-supporting hackers.”
An escalation in the computer terror war may be an attempt to cause damage to systems that are operated by computer networks, such as financial systems, power stations, hospitals, television broadcasts and satellites,” he warns.