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Hackers could take over critical infrastructure and bring huge attacks, Reddit users warn in terrifying thread

The software to destroy machines could already be sitting around on our computers, the hackers warned

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Friday 04 December 2015 18:29
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Computer software is invading computer systems around the world and could be lying in wait to strike at our most important infrastructure, according to Reddit users.

People have been sharing some of the most powerful and scary powers that computer hackers might have. And they include taking over industrial machinery and using potentially to kill people, according to posts on the site.

In a thread asking “What are the best computer hackers able to do right now that most people are unaware of?”, Reddit users shared stories of the huge danger that computer hackers are able to bring to normal people.

Many users brought up Stuxnet as perhaps the most terrifying piece of hacking ever. That was a piece of software built by an unknown group that was engineered so that it could take over centrifuges that were used to enrich radioactive material in Iran.

Users pointed out that perhaps the most terrifying part of the software was that it “hid throughout the whole world” until it found the system that it wanted to impact. When it did, it jumped into action and destroyed the centrifuge.

KovaaK also drew attention to a piece of software called Gauss. The malware is from the same family as the infamous Stuxnet — except some worry that it is much worse.

“Gauss has an encrypted payload where the key is the target computer's configuration — meaning that it won't activate (and no one knows what it really is meant to do) unless it infects its intended target,” the user wrote. “To my knowledge, no one in the public knows what it will attack or what damage it has caused.”

But the potential consequences of any such hack could be huge. Just as Stuxnet targeted a uranium enrichment facility, hackers could target other major machinery and cause havoc and potentially kill people.

“Industrial control systems (power, waste treatment, water treatment, HVAC, etc.) are notoriously unsecured by even so much as a password,” wrote lhtaylor00. “I firmly believe it will require a digital 9/11 for the US to finally get serious about cyber security.”

But others pointed out that it wasn’t just major industrial systems that would be hacked.

“That "smart" refrigerator, toaster, dildo? Hackable,” wrote one user. “And due to space limitations (where the firmware is stored), possibly not entirely fixable.”

Many pointed out that though the popular idea of an elite hacker may be someone from Anonymous or other activist groups, the best hackers in the world are likely working for the NSA and government agencies in other countries.

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