Skip to Content

Large-scale cyber attacks drive new defenses

June 22, 2010

Over the past few years, computer attacks, once largely a nuisance issue, have become a threat to national security. Organized criminals have taken advantage of the shift toward online banking and commerce to compromise the financial identity of millions. Even worse, it’s now possible for hackers to cripple government websites during a conflict, or for governments to spy on businesses. Some people even fear that cyber terrorists could use the Internet to damage critical infrastructure such as power stations (see “Moore’s Outlaws”). Concrete numbers on the economic impact of security failures are hard to come by, but the FBI says that losses from cyber crimes in the United States jumped 112 percent from 2008 to 2009.

Cyber attackers exploit fundamental weaknesses in our computer systems (see “The Attacker’s Advantage”). And the threat only grows as more and more businesses around the world become dependent on the Internet, and as more critical infrastructure goes online. To prevent a disaster, experts are working on new defensive technologies, and organizations are even tightening up internal security to protect themselves from malicious insiders. But given that the attackers and their victims are often in different countries, international coöperation will be crucial to improving security, and the necessary agreements have proved hard to reach (see “Global Gridlock on Cyber Crime).

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.