How Real Is Cyber Threat?

Technology is like anything else that can be used for good or for evil purposes.  Many things have dual purposes or even more than just dual purposes, and technology is no exception to this fact.  Perhaps, there is an exception to the rule, but my small brain cannot think up one for the moment.  Anyhow, there are forces in the world that are trying to use technology for evil purposes.  For an example, from nuclear to cyber threats.  Nuclear threat has existed for many decades already, and by now most people know what MAD means.  In this blog post I’m not going to bother with voicing my opinion on nuclear threat.  Instead, I’m going to focus on voicing my opinion on cyber threat.

Lately, we have seen big powers like USA and China accuse each other of cyber warfare.  It’s obvious that it’s hard to know who is doing what in term of hacking one another in the cyberspace.  Nonetheless, I think I know why cyber threat is a growing concern.

On the surface, before we unravel all the layers of onion, we truly cannot see why there are fusses about cyber security.  For some people, they think that cyber threat can be dealt with best cyber security practices and no more than that.  Of course, it’s true that cyber security measures such as installing well known antivirus software and firewall are definitely going to help counter most cyber vulnerabilities.  Nonetheless, there are other cyber vulnerabilities out there that won’t be eliminated by even the most powerful firewall and antivirus programs.  Why?  I think there are some well kept or new cyber vulnerabilities that have not been dealt with, because these cyber vulnerabilities are well kept secrets or too new.  By using these cyber vulnerabilities and better hacking tools, hackers are able to wreck havocs on the cyber networks of the world.

When we peel more layers of the onion off, we can see that cyber security is very important.  How come?  In my opinion, it’s about a digital future where money mainly get create in digital form.  This is the future trend that our present (the world) is heading for.  Of course, if we just rely on cyber networks for communication and not for banking and monetization, then cyber security can only be boiled down to privacy and few other things but not of money matters.  Nonetheless, cyber networks as in the Internet can be used for electronic commerce, banking, and the whole nine yards.  This means cyber security is needing to be taken seriously, otherwise hackers can just waltz in and erase, steal, change, and do whatever else to the digital money that belong to various money matter institutions such as banking, electronic commerce giants, and whatnot.

I can imagine a scenario that a group of powerful hackers that is sponsored by a powerful organization hacks a cyber system of a country to a point that they erase all of the digital money from this country, leaving this country as a bankrupted nation.  Nonetheless, this country can totally create new digital money out of thin air if she wants to, but will this be ethically, legally, and sensibly?  Can such an incident be covered up easily?  After all, we’re living in a globalized world, and transactions are having been done globally all the time; something like this if to rain upon a country will not be easily covered up.

This is why I think cyber security issues are so important nowadays.  Without proper measures to protect cyber networks, the vulnerable Internet can gradually weaken the trust of digital money transactions, leaving countries and everyday people seek out the traditional means of doing transactions.  Perhaps, this is why we’re seeing the prevalence of traditional transactions today.  Cash is one good example of traditional transactions.

When I’m hearing how one country is having difficulty in protecting a state secret from being leaked out through the cyber networks, I think it’s absurd that such a country is connecting her secret networks to the Internet in the first place.  I think each country should keep her state secrets on an Intranet that won’t be connected to the regular Internet.  Furthermore, such a country needs to provide physical protections to her Intranet, because when hacking cannot be done remotely someone ought to waltz into such a network physically so the hacking can be done eventually.  For an example, stealing state secrets with the usage of a thumb drive (USB devices or similar devices).

In summary, I think the fusses about cyber security threat are real.  This is why we are hearing countries complain about being victims to hack attacks and whatnot.  Corporations are also experiencing cyber security issues, because corporate espionage can be done through cyber networks with ease.  Whenever an entity is connecting to the Internet and it doesn’t matter what type of entity that is, cyber security issues become real just like any other important issue that matters.  Of course, if there is a day that we do not rely on the Internet anymore and money transactions do not take place in the Internet, then cyber threat will not be a threat of anything but only a historical fact.

Personal Note:  The advance of encryption is also important, because encryption can be incorporated into various network tools to secure the Internet transactions.  With strong encryption, it’s harder for hackers to decrypt the Internet transactions into plain text, thus preventing important information from being leaked.

Facebook May Become A Biggest Bank Ever In 2015?

Either this guy is very smart or he was abnormally high when he said Facebook would be the biggest bank by the middle of decade, and that would be around 2015?  The founder of Metal International, Ken Rutkowski, predicts that Facebook may try to become a bank, because it already has too many members, enough to shame any country’s population, except for China and India.  He thinks Facebook is already partly doing so in providing a medium where people can exchange Facebook virtual credits to play games and so on.  He also warns that if you don’t create a Facebook profile now, soon or later someone will try to create a Facebook profile for you that probably will also represent as your financial profile.

Here are my perspectives on this!  I’m not sure you know, but I think at least 30% of members are spammers on Facebook, 25% of members are there just to hope they can establish fake relationships to benefit them somehow, 15% of members frequently exchange photos and short conversations, and the last 30% of members are staying as Facebook members just for one reason — everyone is doing it (these folks rarely visit Facebook).  Obviously, I don’t have true insight into Facebook’s member statistic, but I’m just like the guy above who makes an educated guess about certain things that might be true of Facebook.  Often, such educated guesses probably miss the bullseye by an ocean, and you don’t even have to be surprised and ask oh why oh why!

I doubt Facebook can become a bank, unless Facebook wants to be a bank.  When Facebook becomes a bank, Facebook will probably forgo its social network reputation.  Simple, a bank is a formidable place where physical vaults should be made of unbreakable steels where thieves have to be ingenious to dare to steal some money, and online a bank needs to have even more super hard to crack security measures to protect their customers — don’t want to see a run on bank now!  A social network can never become a bank, because it’s already too risky for anyone to exchange money with strangers, yet they still have to contend with fake profiles.  I’ve not even touched on the topic of hackers pretend to be real Facebook members so they can social engineer other members to give them access to profiles and so on.  Facebook has to be damn sure that nobody can access someone else profile at all cost, otherwise a Facebook’s dream of becoming a bank equates to just that.

Yes, Facebook can become a bank, but that will no longer be the same Facebook.  I predict Facebook’s members will leave in huge numbers when Facebook becomes a bank, and only the spammers and fake members will forever stay with Facebook in such time.  Remember, people join Facebook in the first place is to open up their privacy and let loose their wild sides — let your hair down.  Others join Facebook to make new friends in a genuine way or otherwise.  I don’t think people join Facebook to do banking!  I say, 2015, I don’t know Facebook becomes what, but I doubt it can compete against Bank of America and Wells Fargo or any small local bank!  If I’m wrong, Bank of America and Wells Fargo and other local banks better create their own social network websites and compete with Facebook now, or else that Ken Rutkowski guy will say I told you so!  Gosh, I so wish that April soon to be bygone and bygone.


Give In To Convenience But Risk Of Being Hacked By Banking And Paying With Smart Phones?

Bank of America and other banks are making it easier for you to pay bills and buy products whenever at wherever.  How?  Through smart phones, banks are increasingly rolling out applications that allow users to interact with the banks and the merchants on the go.  There won’t be an argument there on the aspect of convenience, but security is a nightmare!

Each smart phone is smart in taking your commands and automating itself in various tedious tasks — these devices, although smaller than ever before, are keep on getting more powerful.  So powerful that a smart phone almost resembles to a small netbook.  Just take a look at the latest iPhone, it can do many things that a netbook can.  You can argue that a netbook is more powerful still, but I say it’s close enough.  This is why nowadays almost everyone wants a smart phone.

Unfortunately, smart phones of today are susceptible to being hacked by hackers.  Let us guess, smart phones are not smart enough?  According to Hak5’s “Episode 825 – Shmoocon 2011 Part 2: Android Botnets…,” Darren Kitchen interviews Georgia Weidman and reveals that smart phones of today have no protection whatsoever in term of computer security as if we’re using the technology of the past.  So why smart phones need computer security?  Essentially, smart phones are computers — just slim down versions of tablets and netbooks and personal computers.  At the cores of smart phones’ operating systems, programs are written in computer languages such as C, and so hackers who know how to write computer programs can exploit the vulnerabilities within these smart phones.

So, the scary facts are smart phones have no security protection whatsoever, but banks are encouraging users to use smart phones to pay for stuffs.  At the same time, from coffee shops to various stores are trying out new programs that allow users to pay through smart phones.  Obviously, everyone wants to make more money, but the customers may face the wrath of hackers.  Imagine this, one beautiful day suddenly turns sour as you notice your bank account has zero dollar, because a hacker (i.e., a stranger) had emptied out your bank account.  Yes, very Hollywood like, but hackers are capable of tricking you to let them have access to your smart phones if you’re not careful.  By having security programs on your smart phones, at least you may have higher chance of spotting red flag activities.  Even with security programs on smart phones, it bogs down to being smart — apparently, hackers can send SMS messages to entice you to either install an application or do something stupid, and if everything is going according to plan for the specific hacker, your smart phone is hacked.  By using smart phones to access bank accounts and paying for stuffs, you are at higher risk of exposing your confidential information to hackers.

In conclusion, smart phones have to be beefier in term of security before I think smart phones are safe to be used as payment devices.  You see, a credit card reveals less information than a smart phone!  If someone has your credit card or remembering your credit card information, that individual only knows the numbers of your credit card, your name, the three or four security codes on the back of the credit cards, and the expire date; with a smart phone, either it got stolen or a hacker has full blown access to it, you are at risk of revealing all personal information that you have saved on your smart phone.  Potentially, hackers can access to everything that you do electronically.  To end the whole article, I have to say it’s great that banks are listening to customers by making banking easier through whatever methods (i.e., using smart phone to pay for stuffs), but banks need to watch out for their customers by improving the security of smart phones such as rolling out security applications for their customers.


Image by geee.darryl from using Creative Common License.  Photographer of this specific image can email me at to have this image taken out of this article!