Is the United States creating a more dangerous Web? This is the theory expressed in a recent story by the MIT Technology Review. The story details the story of Stuxnet. You may remember this piece of malware as it made big news in 2010 when it was discovered. Today, the consensus is that Stuxnet was created by the governments of the United States and Israel to attack the industrial equipment needed to build Iran’s budding nuclear program. As the Technology Review story states, Stuxnet might be the first well-known demonstration of a new form of warfare, one in which countries use malware along with other computer viruses to attack the computer and security systems of other nations. And the United States might be the leader in this form of virtual warfare.
Crafting a more dangerous Web?
According to the Technology Review story, researchers are continually uncovering new malware that, like Stuxnet, has one goal: to act as a weapon. Just how many malware weapons have governments around the world created? No one knows the answer to that. However the story does report that governments and companies, including in the United States, are paying big dollars to computer professionals who produce these malware weapons. That leaves a significant question left unanswered: Are these new malware weapons making the web a more hazardous place?
Smartphones are not safe, either
Don’t think that you can avoid malware weapons by doing most of your computing on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices. The reality is, governments are especially keen on targeting these mobile devices. First, progressively more people are doing the majority of their computing on these mobile devices. Secondly, mobile devices are particularly susceptible to malware because their operating systems are updated so rarely. The Technology Review story points to Apple, which only updates its iPhone operating system a few times each year. That represents a golden opportunity for governments to infect the smartphones of suspects with spyware.
The Technology Review story ends with this chilling thought: Maybe malware weapons are nothing new. After all, countries are always building new and more damaging weapons. It ought to come as little surprise, then, that governments take to the online world, too, when it comes to developing new weapons. It’s unfortunate, though, that this newest round of arms building is creating a more dangerous Internet.