Cyber Wars Could Crash Markets and Threat To Humanity – Buffett and Rickards
Cyber wars are a bigger threat to humanity than nuclear weapons, the world’s richest and most famous investor Warren Buffett, presciently warned a few days ago.
“I’m very pessimistic on weapons of mass destruction generally although I don’t think that nuclear probably is quite as likely as either primarily biological and maybe cyber,” Buffett said during Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholders’ meeting. Unlike most of Buffett’s pronouncements, this clear and very strong warning was not reported widely.
“I don’t know that much about cyber, but I do think that’s the number one problem with mankind” said Buffett as reported by Business Insider UK.
Last year, Buffett told CNBC — cyber, nuclear, biological and chemical attacks — posed a major threat to the economic well-being of Berkshire shareholders.
Echoing Buffett’s cyber concerns, today one of the world’s leading experts on currency wars, financial warfare, cyber terrorism and cyber war, James Rickards has again warned that cyber attacks may have already compromised the U.S. national security and could turn a “bad day on Wall Street into a full blown crash”.
According to Rickards writing in the Daily Reckoning today:
“Friday’s cyberattack just highlights the growing nature of the threat, and the need for much greater security.
WikiLeaks’ March release of 7,818 web pages, called the “Vault 7,” was a major development. This collection amounted to more than several hundred million lines of code, and gave away the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.
It was by far the largest release of CIA intelligence documents in history.
And the WikiLeaks’ released documents proved that U.S. intelligence agencies have lost control of their hacking tools.
This is part of a much larger problem.
Barely a day goes by without some company or government agency announcing that one of its systems has been compromised or attacked …
In 2010, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security discovered an attack virus in the computer systems of the Nasdaq stock market. That virus was disabled, but others may remain.
On Aug. 22, 2013, the Nasdaq was mysteriously shut down for over three hours, disrupting trading in Apple, Google, Facebook and other investor favorites.
Military planners make use of a fighting doctrine called the “force multiplier.” The idea is that any given weapon can be used with greater-than-normal effect when combined with some other state or condition that gives the weapon greater impact.
For example, if Russia wanted to disrupt a U.S. stock exchange, they might wait until the market is down over 3%, say, 500 points on the Dow Jones index, for reasons unrelated to the cyberattack.
Launching the attack on a day when the market is already nervous would “multiply” the impact of the attack and possibly result in a drop of 4,000 Dow points or more, comparable in percentage terms to the one-day drop on Oct. 19, 1987.
All of these scenarios are worrying enough, but a couple years ago the U.S. government suffered a cyberattack even worse than shutting a stock exchange or opening the floodgates on a dam.
Chinese hackers had gained access to the files of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Estimates of individuals affected range from 4 million up to 32 million. The Chinese hackers actually obtained credentials to gain access to the system, and once inside systematically downloaded the database.
If the stolen information were limited to names, addresses, Social Security numbers and the like, the damage would be immense and the affected individuals would be at constant risk of harassment and identity theft.
But the damage was far worse.
Many of the files consisted of responses to a questionnaire called Standard Form 86, or SF-86. This is the form used to apply for security clearances up to and including the top-secret level.
The form itself is 127 pages long, which is daunting enough.
But the attachments and documentation required to support the information on the form, including tax returns, personal net worth statements, explanations of answers to certain questions, etc., can run to hundreds of pages more.”
Our modern financial system and investment and savings providers with their massive dependency on single interface websites, servers and the internet face serious risks that few analysts have yet to appreciate and evaluate.
These also pose risks to digital gold providers who do not allow clients to interact and trade on the phone and are solely reliant for pricing and liquidity from online portals and online trading platforms.
Those who have outright legal ownership of physical gold and silver coins and bars outside the banking system will weather the cyber storm better than those who do not.
The hope is that these risks will not materialise. Hope is never a strategy. We believe it is prudent to be aware of and take appropriate measures – sooner rather than later – to protect your wealth.
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