The disaster caused by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico from the winds and rains was bad enough but the hurricane’s damage continues to wreak havoc among its residents because there is still no electrical power, and thus no electric lights, refrigeration, and myriad other things humans require to survive and prosper. But malevolent hackers could wreck the power grid of much larger and populous nations, including the USA. They proved this in early 2016 in the Ukraine.
But even without a malevolent action by North Korea, just a system overload, such as the one experienced in India in July 2012, could take a whole country’s power grid down. We can hope that the United States and its allies have taken or are taking measures to prevent such outages. However, the U.S. power grid is far from perfect.
WordPress is one of the most popular tools in the Internet world, with one source estimating in January 2017 that it accounts for 50-60% of the Content Management Systems and that it runs 27% of the entire Internet. It also has made its creator, Matt Mullenweg, a multi-millionaire. Unfortunately it seems to be at least as popular among malicious hackers as it is among the rest of its users, and it apparently is constantly under attack by a large bunch of them, including a major one in mid-January.
We at Technology Bloopers would agree that, when not beset by these attacks, WordPress.org has provided us a simple way of publishing our content. Of course this came at the expense of having to work around the ambiguity of whether to install it at the root or elsewhere, the wretched (and sometimes downright wrong) advice of the “WordPress for Dummies” book, and the virtually unusable user forum. But we overcame these challenges and sailed along for three years … until now. Apparently we were lucky, as over one million sites were defaced. This and its two sister sites appears to be unaffected, although whenever we add a new post or update the versions of plugins, themes, or other features we have to take a detour from our usual path (apparently because our ISP has not repaired their own damage).
Technology does not exist in a vacuum. It is created by humans of varying degrees of ability and honesty. And technology involving the Internet is generally so complex, and created under time pressure, that it is more error-prone than more cautious and patient people would like.
According to the New York Times, slack security at the New York Fed (that’s the Federal Reserve Bank of New York), which most folks would consider a bastion of safe-keeping, allowed a bunch of money ($81 million or $100 million or some such sum) that rightfully belonged to poverty-stricken Bangladesh to be misappropriated by Chinese hackers and transferred to the Philippines, where in turn it was apparently transferred by above-the-law banks to putatively money-laundering casinos, who made it vanish beyond any chance of recovery. We’re not making this up. Mere prose and still images can’t do it justice. And no fiction writer could have imagined a more twisted tale.
The comedy continues if one reads the Zero Hedge blog, which apparently specializes in spreading misinformation of all sorts, including calling a spade a spade when it might not be. Entertaining to most of the world, but not to a few officials during whose watch this debacle occurred or to starving citizens of Bangladesh.