Mercenary hackers and the increasingly high fees governments and corporations pay them for “zero day” exploits will eventually turn the entire internet into a battlefield.
A “zero day” exploit is a cyber vulnerability that no one has seen yet in “the wild,” meaning on the web, in either forums or in action against targets.
Lately, these zero days are going for more and more money.
Business Insider recently talked to Professor Peter Ludlow, an Internet culture expert and professor of philosophy at Northwestern University, about the implications of weaponizing the internet.
“Hackers used to find exploits for a free T-Shirt from a company,” said Ludlow.
Now companies are paying out hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, depending on the exploit, to individual hackers as well as the growing legion of private cyber-mercenary companies. Even the government has gotten into the mix, hiring out private contractors and building vast armies of “cyber warriors.”
Internet dissident and cyber-minded journalist Barret Brown referred to it as the “cyber industrial complex.”
“The whole internet has become Beirut, or Afghanistan, the whole thing is a war zone, basically being fuelled by nation states giving money to people who develop these kinds of exploits,” said Ludlow.
Ludlow said that throwing money at the problem isn’t going to solve it. “The Internet is a dynamic system,” said Ludlow, “any attempt to tame the Internet will likely fail.”
Referring to these exploits, Ludlow asserts that there is “no bottom” to the hole when it comes to security gaps. There will always be breaches, and if the government and corporations pay, the breaches will just get increasingly more complex and more nasty.
“If they keep paying for these exploits … you are going to have very rich virus hunters out there, with incredible resources to continue this,” said Ludlow.
These rich companies intend to see how deep the rabbit hole goes, Ludlow concluded, and the Internet will be dragged along with them.
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