There is so much hacking going on that it seems to have become almost boring. But it behooves us to take hacking very seriously. I think if the public knew more about the way hacked information is actually being used, we’d pay closer attention and defend ourselves more effectively.
Who cares about all the hacking? Take a hypothetical example: American soldiers in the Middle East have been receiving emails that sound something like this: “Good morning. We thought you would like to know that we are carefully watching your daughter Rosie, the one who lives in Wichita at 1234 State Street. This is to inform you that if your tank moves 100 meters north, she will not live to see the sun rise tomorrow.”
That’s the sort of thing that can happen when personal data get into dangerous hands. American troops aren’t afraid to die in combat, but their children did not volunteer. This sort of blackmail is credible and effective. Threats against the kids are more powerful than those against the troops themselves. And this is only one way in which the hackers and their clients can exploit all those millions of files.
Such emails come from the “information dominance and psychological warfare” handbook to add incremental corrosive stress to the war fighter, in addition to the stress that he or she is already under. Direct stress to the war fighter is “thrown off” nearly automatically because of good training and because we operate under the theory of the team, the band of the brotherhood, etc. We are trained to believe that we as a team, so long as we are a team together, will be okay.
However, the greater stress that impacts the war fighter is that which cannot be spun off — and that is a threat against our family at home, alone, and while we are in combat and deployed.
Thus, this particular PSYCHOP — a hypothetical one, to be sure, but similar things happen often — is very cleverly created because it cannot be easily shed — it is done to add additional stress; and moreover, to distract and defocus and finally to demoralize the war fighter so that they will make mistakes or lose focus upon their training or not take risks.
The hacked data provide our enemies with a terrific mailing list, as well as targets for espionage (that’s how they get information about “Rosie”).
Which raises two crucial questions: Who’s hacking? Who are their clients?