Was America Just Attacked? We Have Now Been Put On Notice That Our Communication Infrastructure Is Extremely Vulnerable

cyber security

What would we do if we suddenly couldn’t use the Internet or our phones any longer?  For a lot of people, such a scenario would be unthinkable.  In fact, it felt like the “world is ending” for many AT&T customers on Thursday.  The disruption to AT&T’s network only lasted for a few hours, but it created quite a frenzy.  If we are going to see this much panic for an outage that happens for just a few hours, what would our society look like if Internet and phone communication was down for days, weeks or even months?

Once the outage began, federal authorities moved very rapidly to determine whether it was a cyberattack or not

Federal agencies are ‘urgently investigating’ whether the massive cellular outage that plagued Americans on Thursday was a cyberattack.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) are on the hunt to track down what disrupted service AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and a dozen other cellular providers.

While the agencies have not shared details, a security expert told DailyMail.com that the outage has hallmarks of a hack.

Lee McKnight, associate professor at Syracuse University in New York, said the widespread nature appears to be ‘a massive Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack on core Internet infrastructure.’

I have a feeling that they will assure the general public that it was not a cyberattack no matter what they discover.

In situations such as these, keeping everyone calm is often deemed more important than telling them the truth.

Interestingly, pharmacies all over the U.S. were also having major problems on Thursday due to a cyberattack against “one of the biggest healthcare technology companies in the nation”

Pharmacies all over the country are experiencing delays in prescription orders due to a cyberattack on one of the biggest healthcare technology companies in the nation, Change Healthcare.

Change Healthcare first noticed the “cyber security issue” affecting its networks on Wednesday morning on the East Coast.

According to Change Healthcare, it appears that a “nation-state associated cyber security threat actor” was involved in that attack…

In a statement the firm says it had ‘identified a suspected nation-state associated cyber security threat actor had gained access to some of the Change Healthcare information technology systems.’

Are the issues at AT&T and the issues at Change Healthcare related?

I have a feeling that they are, but I certainly cannot prove that.

In any event, the truth is that we have just been put on notice.

Our communication infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, and it can be attacked at literally any moment.

Today, there are a number of foreign powers that possess very robust cyberattack capabilities.

One of them is China, and the Washington Post is reporting on a trove of leaked documents that show that the Chinese “are attempting large-scale, systematic cyber intrusions against foreign governments, companies and infrastructure”…

A trove of leaked documents from a Chinese state-linked hacking group shows that Beijing’s intelligence and military groups are attempting large-scale, systematic cyber intrusions against foreign governments, companies and infrastructure — with hackers of one company claiming to be able to target users of Microsoft, Apple and Google.

The cache — containing more than 570 files, images and chat logs — offers an unprecedented look inside the operations of one of the firms that Chinese government agencies hire for on-demand, mass data-collecting operations.

Of course I have no idea if China was involved in the incidents that we witnessed today.

But without a doubt the Chinese have some of the most advanced cyberattack capabilities in the entire world.

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio ominously warned about what China could do to us if a full-scale war breaks out

‘I don’t know the cause of the AT&T outage,’ said Sen. Marco Rubio, Fla., top Republican on the Intelligence Committee.

‘But I do know it will be 100 times worse when #China launches a cyber-attack on America on the eve of a #Taiwan invasion. And it won’t be just cell service they hit, it will be your power, your water, and your bank,’ he went on.

He is right.

But the Russians have similar capabilities.

So do the North Koreans.

Needless to say, it isn’t just our enemies that we need to be concerned about.  An article that USA Today just posted explained that there are many ways that natural disasters could cause communication disruptions “for an extended period of time”

While cell service in the U.S. is typically fairly dependable and Thursday’s issues were limited in scope, there’s a long list of potential emergency situations when cell phones could become unreliable, according to Alyssa Provencio, professor at the University of Central Oklahoma who oversees the disaster management certificate program.

Communication issues are the norm in a disaster, not an anomaly, Provencio said. Some scenarios like snow storms, strong wind, torrential rain, fire, and tornadoes may affect a small number of people. Others, like major earthquakes, solar flares or cyberattacks, have the potential to disrupt communications for millions of people for an extended period of time.

Let’s talk about solar activity for a moment.

Because it is just a matter of time before a massive solar storm fries our communication infrastructure, and our politicians have not been preparing for such an event.

The Earth experienced a direct hit from an enormous solar storm in 1859, and if such a storm hit us today the consequences would be catastrophic

AT&T fell victim to a solar flare in 1972 that interrupted landline services.

The storm that hit Earth was compared to the event in 1859 known as the Carrington Event, which saw the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history.

If such a solar storm were to happen in today’s world, the effects would be catastrophic on our communications systems.

A meteorologist shared online that a solar flare had erupted from the sun around midnight on Thursday, noting that the ‘timing is interesting.’

This is one of the reasons why many of us are watching solar activity so closely.

On Thursday, the most powerful flare of Solar Cycle 25 was unleashed, and if scientists determine that it is heading directly toward Earth we could have a major problem on our hands…

Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X6.3-class solar flare from sunspot AR3590 (Feb. 22 @ 2234 UT). This is the strongest flare of Solar Cycle 25, and the third X-flare the sunspot has produced in a 24 hour period. Stay tuned for updates about this explosion, especially whether or not it has hurled a CME toward Earth.

Hopefully we will not have to face such a scenario any time soon.

But USA Today says that there are some things that all of us should be doing to prepare for the day when some type of emergency does cause extended disruptions…

  • Cash: It’s a good idea to have cash on hand in case you can’t use mobile payment options or ATMs are down, said James Kendra, co-director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware.
  • Paper copies of important documents: “One of the things that I stress to everybody is to have paper copies of all of your important documents,” he also said. That means a printed-out bank statement so you have all your account numbers, a printed insurance statement, phone bill and mortgage or rent documents, so that you have the numbers available you might typically go online to get.
  • Landline: If you don’t have a landline, you might still be able to use your cell to send SMS text messages or use Wi-Fi to send messages or make calls.
  • A radio: This is always a good thing to have to receive emergency updates, Provencio said, but if you don’t have one in your home, chances are you do have one in your car.

I think that having a solar-powered radio is so important.

When global events spin wildly out of control, you will want to have access to news and information.

We really are living in unprecedented times.

In all of human history, there has never been a “cyberwar”, and so we don’t know exactly what one would look like.

But it is clear that our communication infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, and what we just witnessed should definitely be a wakeup call for all of us.

Michael Snyder

Photo: Enisa

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Michael Snyder
Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality, and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared NowThe Beginning Of The End, and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse BlogEnd Of The American Dream, and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.