The Internet turned out to be vulnerable

The Internet turned out to be vulnerable too—not to bombs, as was the original plan, but to cyber-attacks. Because the Internet has evolved into more than a military tool and become integrated into everyday life, a cyber-attack could so unwind our Internet- dependent communication system that mass communication as we know it would be in jeopardy. In a 2011 research essay, Chinese scholars Ye Zheng and Zhao Baoxian explained that war has changed. As they see it, nuclear strategies belonged to the industrial era in human history. Cyber-warfare is now the strategic war of the information era. Both can be “massively destructive.” The common denominator: Nations can live and die in both nuclear and cyber war.

The United States has developed military cyber-strategy in response to potential cyber-attacks and computer sabotage from countries and non-state actors (rebel groups, terrorist groups, etc.). One Pentagon official, speaking to the Wall Street Journal on the condition of anonymity, put it this way: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.” And yet, the U.S. government has been the target of multiple hacking attempts, some of which have been successful, at least to some extent:

In October 2015, the personal e-mail accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson were hacked, allegedly, by a high school student critical of U.S. foreign policy in Palestine. The confidential information and data collected was then posted online by WikiLeaks. This type of activity is called “social engineering.”

In September 2015, hackers targeting the Office of Personnel Management obtained the fingerprints of 9.5 million people who were applying for government security clearance.

In June 2015, hackers targeting government computer systems obtained personal information, including financial information and social security numbers of 21.5 million people who were subject to government background checks.

In January 2015, the Twitter account for U.S. Central Command was hacked and pro-ISIS messages were disseminated.

Clearly, hacking has moved far beyond Jack Draper’s fun-and-games half a century ago. In fact, military and security experts now deem cyber-attacks as a leading threat of nation-state security in the 21st century.

In this chapter, you will examine a range of technologies that underpin all mass communication. These include print, broadcast and film, as well as digital technology

and the Internet, which are quickly subsuming traditional delivery platforms and creating new issues, such as the new cyber-battlefields previously referenced.

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