Terrorist Risk of Cloud Computing
I don’t even know where to begin on this one:
As we have seen in the past with other technologies, while cloud resources will likely start out decentralized, as time goes by and economies of scale take hold, they will start to collect into mega-technology hubs. These hubs could, as the end of this cycle, number in the low single digits and carry most of the commerce and data for a nation like ours. Elsewhere, particularly in Europe, those hubs could handle several nations’ public and private data.
And therein lays the risk.
The Twin Towers, which were destroyed in the 9/11 attack, took down a major portion of the U.S. infrastructure at the same time. The capability and coverage of cloud-based mega-hubs would easily dwarf hundreds of Twin Tower-like operations. Although some redundancy would likely exist—hopefully located in places safe from disasters—should a hub be destroyed, it could likely take down a significant portion of the country it supported at the same time.
Each hub may represent a target more attractive to terrorists than today’s favored nuclear power plants.
It’s only been eight years, and this author thinks that the 9/11 attacks “took down a major portion of the U.S. infrastructure.” That’s just plain ridiculous. I was there (in the U.S, not in New York). The government, the banks, the power system, commerce everywhere except lower Manhattan, the Internet, the water supply, the food supply, and every other part of the U.S. infrastructure I can think of worked just fine during and after the attacks. The New York Stock Exchange was up and running in a few days. Even the piece of our infrastructure that was the most disrupted—the airplane network—was up and running in a week. I think the author of that piece needs to travel to somewhere on the planet where major portions of the infrastructure actually get disrupted, so he can see what it’s like.
No less ridiculous is the main point of the article, which seems to imply that terrorists will someday decide that disrupting people’s Lands’ End purchases will be more attractive than killing them. Okay, that was a caricature of the article, but not by much. Terrorism is an attack against our minds, using random death and destruction as a tactic to cause terror in everyone. To even suggest that data disruption would cause more terror than nuclear fallout completely misunderstands terrorism and terrorists.
And anyway, any e-commerce, banking, etc. site worth anything is backed up and dual-homed. There are lots of risks to our data networks, but physically blowing up a data center isn’t high on the list.