Technopedia lists the following consequences of a cyber attack:
- Identity theft, fraud, extortion
- Malware, pharming, phishing, spamming, spoofing, spyware, Trojans and viruses
- Stolen hardware, such as laptops or mobile devices
- Denial-of-service and distributed denial-of-service attacks
- Breach of access
- Password sniffing
- System infiltration
- Website defacement
- Private and public Web browser exploits
- Instant messaging abuse
- Intellectual property (IP) theft or unauthorized access
Cyber attacks happen far more frequently than you might think. Check out this real-time map [<<–THIS IS COOL -ed] for a look at the almost constant siege.
How does a cyber attack affect you?
You may think that if you don’t spend your day working online, that an attack on our computer infrastructure isn’t that big of a deal. You may feel like it wouldn’t affect you at all.
Unfortunately, there are very few people in the country that would remain completely unaffected in the event of a major cyber attack. Our economy, our utility grids, and our transportation systems are all heavily reliant upon computers. This makes us very vulnerable to such an attack.
And by vulnerable, I mean that if it was done on a big enough scale, it could essentially paralyze the entire country.
Here are some of the systems that are reliant on computers.
In the event of a widespread cyberattack, the following could be either completely inoperable or breached. Keep in mind that a domino effect could occur that effects systems beyond the original target.
- Gas stations (most of the pumps are now digital and connect right to your bank)
- Banks (all of the records are online) would not be able to process electronic transactions. ATM machines would not function to allow customers access to cash.
- Utility systems (most power stations are run by computers)
- Water treatment facilities (these are automated too)
- Protection of personal information, including data about your finances, medical records, physical location, and academic records – everything a person would need to steal your identity
- Government operations, including dangerous identifying information about federal employees or members of the military
- Transportation systems (trains, subways, and planes are heavily reliant upon computers)
- Traffic management systems like stoplights, crosswalks, etc.
- Air traffic control
- Everyday trade – most businesses have a computerized cash register that communicates directly with banks. Many businesses are also reliant on scanning bar codes for inventory control and pricing. Point-of-sale systems would be down and people would not be able to pay using credit or debit cards.
- Telecommunications systems can be affected if cell towers are disabled or if the landline system were directly attacked. As more people rely on VOIP, taking down internet service would serve a dual purpose.
- SMART systems could be shut down or manipulated. All of those gadgets that automate climate control, use of utilities, or appliances through SMART technology are vulnerable.
Here’s a video from NATO that explains a little bit more about the dangers of cyber attacks.