Washington Times on October 3, 2013, reported that the fastest-growing cyber threat is from a kind of digital mass shooter, a deranged or outraged hacker able to obtain cyberweapons currently available only to nation-states and organized crime, a former senior U.S. intelligence official. Excerpts below:

“They’re just mad, they’re mad at the world,” said retired Air Force General Michael Hayden. “They may have demands that you or I cannot understand.”

Mr. Hayden warned that within five years hackers “will acquire the [cyberattack] capabilities that we now associate with criminal gangs or nation states,” such as being able to conduct online sabotage of industrial control systems that run power plants, factories and utilities.

Other analysts say that the kind of total war envisioned in such attacks against the civilian population would not be in the interest of any nation-state, and that terrorists lack the capability to stage them.

But the warning from Mr. Hayden — who held several intelligence posts under President George W. Bush — raises the prospect that a lone, unbalanced hacker might seek to generate chaos, for example, contaminating the water supply of a major city.

Mr. Hayden spoke at a cybersecurity panel discussion organized and webcast by The Washington Post.

His warning was echoed by Craig Mundie, a senior adviser to the CEO of Microsoft Corp. and fellow panelist.


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