Just a matter of time’ before cyber 9/11 – cybersecurity expert

Modern network-connected infrastructure is very vulnerable to cyberattacks, according to digital strategy consultant and cyberterrorism expert Lars Hilse, who talked to Sputnik about the risks of online terrorism and crime.

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© Dado Ruvic

Hilse, who warned in 2014 that the next 9/11 would be a cyber-version of the September 11 attacks, said his prediction came true to a small degree in the 2015 attacks on the television network TV5Monde in France.

“In March 2015, we had a physical attack by the cyber caliphate that took down 11 satellite TV stations. With the ever-increasing complexity of our operating systems, the likelihood of network-connected infrastructure such as power, electricity and water supply is open to attack by cyber attackers.”

Hilse explained that “with this entire infrastructure being so vulnerable, I think it’s just a matter of time before somebody has the ‘clever idea’ to take it all out.”

Talking about the recent cryptocurrency hacks, particularly at the Japanese exchange Coincheck, the expert said: “we’ve seen hiccups in the development of this system, but we’ve also seen hiccups in the distribution of money.”

Even today, central banks are still trying to make their money “less counterfeitable,” he said.

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“I think the Internet wasn’t made with security in mind, that’s why we are going to see more such hiccups along the way until someone finds a solution essentially building Internet on top of the Internet, which does have security and allows us to do sensitive things. But the hacks, I think, are difficult to trace.”

Hilse added that it’s just a matter of time until the insurance industry picks up on that and insurance products will be available to counter the risks.

“We are going to see manipulations, successful and unsuccessful,” he said, discussing the recent plunge in cryptocurrency rates.

“We are going to see cryptocurrencies being overrated; going broke, coins being devalued, and so on and so forth. This is going to happen, because it is in the nature of things, but the same was true when the euro came along and many people said: ‘Oh, my God! We are going to get counterfeit money because I don’t know what it looks like!’” 

Hilse added there are lots of things than can happen, “but I’m quite comfortable with the situation now because the proof of concept is there and the blockchain itself is safe.”

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