Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Hack That Could Take Down New York City

From New York Magazine, June 19:

The Big Hack: A scenario that could happen based on what already has.
On December 4, 2017, at a little before nine in the morning, an executive at Goldman Sachs was swiping through the day’s market report in the backseat of a hired SUV heading south on the West Side Highway when his car suddenly swerved to the left, throwing him against the window and pinning a sedan and its driver against the concrete median. A taxi ran into the SUV’s rear fender and spun into the next lane, forcing a school-bus driver to slam on his brakes. Within minutes, nothing was moving from the Intrepid to the Whitney. When the Goldman exec came to, his driver swore that the crash hadn’t been his fault: The car had done it.1

Moments later, on the George Washington Bridge, an SUV veered in front of an 18-wheeler, causing it to jackknife across all four lanes and block traffic heading into the city. The crashes were not a coincidence. Within minutes, there were pileups on 51st Street, the southbound BQE, as far north as the Merritt Parkway, and inside the Midtown Tunnel. By nine, Canal Street was paralyzed, as was the corner of 23rd and Broadway, and every tentacle of what used to be called the Triborough Bridge. At the center of each accident was an SUV of the same make and model, but as the calls came in to the city’s 911 centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn, the operators simply chalked them up to Monday-morning road rage. No one had yet realized that New York City had just been hit by a cyberattack — or that, with the city’s water system, mass transportation, banks, emergency services, and pretty much everything else now wired together in the name of technological progress, the worst was yet to come.2

A third-year resident in the emergency room at Columbia University Medical Center in Washington Heights walked through the hospital as a television was airing images from the accident on the George Washington Bridge; that meant several crash victims would soon be heading her way. When she got to her computer, she tried logging into the network to check on the patients who were already there, but she was greeted with an error message that read WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR BITCOIN THIS TIME....