For some background, I’ve worked as a UNIX systems administrator for more than 20 years in the financial environment. This background includes working for major bankig and stock mark trading companies. I’m not saying that to impress, I am saying it so you know that I have a good amount of experience in the field.
Although logs and paths can be modified, a significant amount of scanning and denial attacks on both commercial and personal computer systems really does seem to come from Russia, China, and the Netherlands.
Now a layperson may ask: “Why does China care about my PC, my Twitter account, or keeping me from accessing PayPal?” The short answer is that they don’t in most cases. I believe these cyberattacks should be seen in layers, however I must also say that what I discus next is my personal opinion and not the opinion of any company I’ve worked for. (As a side note: I have made this concern known – always getting the tinfoil hat look, in reply.)
What you are seeing are mass scale attempts to deny your personal access to information. In this layer of a cyber attack they don’t really care if a web user can access Facebook, PayPal, BofA or a stock market app. The intention is to prevent you from knowing the status of your accounts and financial information in general. Consider these attacks as test runs and learning on their end.
Why does this matter? Because: Guess where your 3 am banking and stock trade environment backend computer support is located? [Probably in] Hong Kong. Yup, all of your personal and corporate banking information from every major financial company that I know of, all of your 401k and stock market trading info, along with IT infrastructure for those institutions are supported with full access, in glorious China. Yes I know Hong Kong is legally somewhat “wink wink” on their own, and companies hire “bonded” Hong Kong companies to do this kind of support, but that is not the point.
My point is that a denial of access to front end information should be seen as a layer on top of a potential change in backend information. That change possibly being either numeric or outright data deletion. Yes companies have backups and redundancy, they have methods to address systems and data access issues, but late night (US) support for that is provided by the same people in Hong Kong.
Now I can’t speak for hacking= at a “television” layer but I would not be surprised if satellite and cable companies are having similar issues with either backend support or direct hacking attempts.
I am not saying put your cash in your mattress and close your accounts. I don’t. I have money in different banks, and in a 401k along with a few stocks. But I also have hard currency and items that are good for trade. A mass cyber attack that includes both a denial of access to your financial information along with mass backend hacking of that information would result in a complete destruction of the global financial system including the the financial state of the attack originating country. What I am saying is that the risk really is significant and to plan accordingly. – Best wishes from Bob in N.C.
JWR Replies: Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Here is some confirmation on hackers co-opting The Internet of Things: Hackers Used New Weapons to Disrupt Major Websites Across U.S.