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Editorial: E-destruction is our newest foe

We witnessed terror in the skies on Sept. 11, 2001, rivaling the attacks on Pearl Harbor 60 years earlier, Dec. 7, 1941. While little comes to mind that ever could surpass "a date which will live in infamy," things certainly are changing.

This past week, talking heads marveled at the use of drones the size of a coin - or smaller - to gather surveillance before police rushed the Sydney café where a gunman was holding 17 hostages.

And, the continuing hacks on Sony Entertainment that first leaked a James Bond "Spectre" script, now are resulting in shutdown of the release of a movie, "The Interview," possible lawsuits, and federal investigators believing a link exists between the cyberattack and North Korea.

It is an Internet world.

Will we continue to see terrorism and destruction in the form of bombs? Sure, it was only 1995 when a blast ripped through the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, courtesy of veteran Timothy McVeigh, killing 168 men, women and children.

Still, a new phrase is coming to light: Electronic warfare.

Consider an attack that wipes out a company's databases, hundreds of thousands of bank or mortgage records, or the theft of account numbers and personal information.

Folks, it's already happening, and does not make it a far-fetched idea for a government to be the victim of a cyberattack.

Companies across the globe right now are on high alert to shore up their network security so they are not the next entity brought to its knees by hackers.

That Sony "hack," by the way, ultimately could cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars, the Associated Press reported. It included terrorist threats and was focused on causing major corporate damage, rather than stealing customer information for fraud - like what happened at Home Depot and Target.

It is considered a new frontier in cybersecurity.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who was touring the state's military installations Thursday with other members of our Congressional delegation, said the hacks are an example of why the U.S. needs to beef up its military intelligence operations.

"Electronic warfare is one of the key elements of one of the new challenges we face," he said in part.

Sony's problems without doubt are a real wake-up call. Harm does not have to cost lives anymore - it can be electronic and economic; attackers too may be focusing on the bottom line.

- Tim Wiederaenders, city editor

Follow Tim on Twitter @TWieds_editor


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