With the post 9/11 world continuing to look over its should so to speak and with new and more elaborate terror plots that continue to loom on the horizon, one of the vulnerable areas of our infrastructure is our lives in cyberspace and particularly the financial world that lives on computer networks and in the cloud of storage and processing spaces in the U.S. With all of the hard targets that could be hit with terror attacks, perhaps one of the most devastating blows to the civilized world from a terrorist group would be to take out the technical infrastructure that powers the Internet, the financial markets, databases, etc, etc, etc. Think about the impact that it would have if everyone lost access to their bank accounts for even one day. The resulting chaos would be catastrophic.
If you think about really how delicate our technical infrastructure is it really brings to mind just how devastating that kind of attack would be. When is the last time that John Doe on a backhoe working for a construction company cut a major fiber line? Think of the disruption to Internet service and cell phone service that those kinds of events have on us. Now, think about the effect of a deliberate attack to disrupt those types of communications. What if a terrorist organization could successfully write a worm that erased all bank records, transactions, and account information from the grid. Even with the major backups that are in place with those systems, the disruption would be catastrophic. With terrorism it seems the goal oftentimes is the fear of the attack and not necessarily the damage that is caused. The combined loss of the initial attack as well as the fear to follow would cause markets to tumble, financial systems to cave in and the entire world economy to almost certainly fail.
It makes one realize that our reliance on technology while great in most respects leaves us asking ourselves if it is a good thing to rely so heavily on it.