A nerd. A dork. A geek. You’ve seen them. You know them. Maybe you are one of them. And you definitely know the type. In fact, it was way back in the 1980s when a group of bullied collegiate outcasts rose up to defeat an alpha-male fraternity using superior technological prowess and brain power. Pretty sure they became billionaires. Pretty sure they married supermodels. Yes, the nerds had their revenge. And it was glorious.
Time has passed. And that glory has faded. Faded into the dark abyss of something more nefarious, more sinister. Technological skills and capabilities are sought-after weapons. Yet the individuals that wield these powers are unlikely to be characterized by most as the hero protagonists of the stories featuring them.
In just another recent but dangerous example of the threats posed by the Internet of Things, a hacker with direct ties to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Hamid Firoozi, was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for successfully hacking into a computer that controlled the “sluice gates” of the Bowman Avenue Dam in Rye, N.Y. In the Justice Department’s first public indictment against hackers tied to the Iranian government, Mr. Firoozi was also charged along with six other Iranians for conducting and coordinating a relentless campaign of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against 46 major companies, primarily connected to the U.S. financial sector.
As fascinating and alarming as it is that hostile government agents were able to take control of a U.S. dam’s sluice gate, and thus potentially have the ability to control the dam’s water flow and levels, the more disturbing part of the story is the ease with which this can be accomplished using a decade-old hacking technique known as “Google dorking.”
Google dorking has apparently been used for years by white and black hat hackers alike because it is so simple and effective at identifying networks with inadequate security and points of entry for an intrusion. Mr. Firoozi allegedly used the Google dorking technique for months before he found an unprotected computer located at the Bowman Avenue Dam, a suitable infrastructure target near New York City.
Essentially, Google dorking involves manipulating Google’s search engines and search results by utilizing advanced text operators. It would appear that Google’s vast cataloguing of data has created often-misunderstood vulnerabilities that can be exploited with ease. Much like the threat HDTV poses to actors with skin issues, Google Search can seemingly highlight to those with the technological skills that your network security is vulnerable.
Revenge of the Nerds was a classic comedy. Clearly, “Revenge of the Dorks” is going to be a very dark comedy at best and will serve as a relentless reminder of the importance of data security.
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