Business Insider, Nov. 19, 2013, 2:54 PM
The next generation hackers may be taking to sound waves, and the Navy is understandably spooked.
Speaking at last week’s Defense One conference, retired Capt. Mark Hagerott cited recent reports about sonic computer viruses as one way that hackers could “jump the air gap” and target systems that are not connected to the Internet.
“If you take a cybernetic view of what’s happening [in the Navy], right now our approach is unplug it or don’t use a thumb drive,” Hagerott said. But if hackers “are able to jump the air gap, we are talking about fleets coming to a stop.”
For a long time the thought was that an air gap (systems that are not connected to the Internet) rendered networks pretty much impenetrable.
Then the Stuxnet virus happened — an Iranian nuclear scientist with an infected thumb drive walked a virus through the air gap and unknowingly uploaded a destructive virus onto a network controlling nuclear centrifuges. This attack not only damaged Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it also signaled the dawn of kinetic cyber attacks (the kind that cause physical damage) and the revealed the vulnerability of air gaps.
It’s not just thumb drives though. Hagerott cited reporting by Arstechnica’s Dan Goodin on a virus that supposedly transmitted via high-frequency sound waves.
Goodin called the malware “the advanced persistent threat equivalent of a Bigfoot sighting.”