England's Daily Mail offers a cyber-threat scenario which security experts say is almost certain to one day soon become a reality:
At first it would be no more than a nuisance. No burning skyscrapers, no underground explosions, just a million electronic irritations up and down the land.
Thousands of government web pages suddenly vanish to be replaced with the Internet's version of the Testcard - that dreaded screen '404 - Not Found' or, more amusingly, some pastiche or parody.
Then the Labour website starts to promise a wholesale renationalisation of the railways. The popular response this generates turns to amusement then bemusement as everything from Jaguar to BT is, the sites claim, to be taken back into state hands.
When conservatives.org.uk starts to promise compulsory repatriation and the return of capital punishment, bemusement turns to alarm.
The disruption continues: thousands of popular websites, from eBay to YouTube, start malfunctioning or are replaced by malicious parodies.
Tens of millions of pounds are wiped off the share price of companies like Amazon as fears grow that the whole Internet credit card payment network is now vulnerable and insecure.
Eventually, reports start to flood in that hundreds of thousands of personal bank accounts have been raided overnight.
Panicked bank chiefs and PR men go on TV to try to reassure, promising that this is no more than an electronic glitch, but thousands of anxious citizens take to the streets, many in tears, and pour angrily into the banks to demand their savings in cash.
When the ATM system goes down, the government steps in. A task force is appointed. There is a rush on hard cash that leads to a shortage of notes and coins.
Soon, it is clear that the United Kingdom (and much of Europe) has been subjected to a sustained and effective cyber-terrorist attack. Disaster is narrowly avoided when a series of sophisticated viruses disrupt the workings of the National Air Traffic Control System.
Slowly, the computer network is disinfected; the viruses, botnets and worms that are the electronic versions of bombs and bullets are defused and rendered harmless. No one has died, but the attack has cost Britain �10bn, and share prices take months to recover.
Such a scenario, say some experts, is not only possible but likely in the near future.
In fact, the article notes, a similar scenario actually occured in Estonia last year. The account is in the story at the link.
Imagine if U.S. banks or Wall Street were attacked and your life's savings were wiped out over night. Were this to happen on a large scale it could easily produce immense panic and chaos in the country. Just thought I'd mention this in case you were feeling too cheery this morning.RLC