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How fake data could lead to failed crops and other woes

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There's a new cyber threat on the horizon. And it's fiendishly subtle and potentially very dangerous.

Fake data - altering databases and documents without anyone noticing.

Say you changed centrally held figures for a key metric such as soil fertility that many arable farmers use to organise their planting schedules.

"That data is used to drive another process, and lots of decisions are made on that basis," says Jason Hart from security firm Gemalto.

Unless the attack was noticed quickly, he says, it could have devastating consequences because the sabotaged data would kick off actions that played out over months and years.

You could end up with failed crops, food shortages and, in a worst case scenario, famine.

"You have no way of going back once a decision is made and the impact has happened," says Mr Hart. "There's a real amplifier effect to that kind of problem."


Other scenarios include hackers interfering with automated stock market trading, triggering mass sell-offs and economic instability.

Or "poisoning" supply chain data so that the wrong stuff goes to the wrong stores, not to mention the potential dangers to energy supplies if production forecasts are tampered with.

No mention of the fake data provided by governments or central banks and the damage they cause by manipulation.

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If someone came up with a genuinely unbreakable form of encyption that could prevent these kinds of hacks by making the internet effectively opaque to everyone would the PTB implement it?

On the one hand it would make hacking impossible, on the other hand any opportunity to spy on your enemies and freinds via hacking would be lost.

I suspect a hack proof internet would be seen as more dangerous than one that is less secure and any technology that could make the web secure will never be deployed even it could be created.

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