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The Terrorism that We Accept

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Computer hacking might not seem like a life insurance issue. But it touches on all our lives and is growing threat to everyone.

The latest hack, of course, targeted Sony over the movie The Interview. Hackers broke into the system and exposed volumes of sensitive and embarrassing data. Speculation has it that North Korea perpetrated the attack because the movie revolves around the mission to assassinate the country’s dear leader, Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has since denied complicity but the U.S. government has identified the rogue nation as the attacker. The more distressing part might be that China apparently was heavily involved. This obviously has troubling implications of what might be the next target.

Sony was criticized by just about everybody, including President Obama, for withholding the movie after theater owners refused to show the film following some dire, but comically worded, threats. That blame may be misplaced. Sony could not release a movie that would not show anywhere.

Nowhere have people called these acts terrorism. How else can they be described? They are destructive acts, followed by threats if demands were not met. And those demands were met. How could the world of black hat hackers not see that as an important lesson?

I’ve written before that we as a nation seem to accept the apparent impunity with which hackers can take our information for illegal gain and even kidnap our computers for ransom. Granted, this is not two towers burning down and taking 3,000 lives, but these acts are making us fearful to do business and have endangered much of the infrastructure that we depend on.

The world appears ready to point the finger at Sony for capitulating. That seems to be blaming the victim who can’t depend on authorities to defend it. People are also blaming North Korea. That nation certainly had a large part in this episode, if it is not completely at fault. But it did get substantial help from others. And North Korea was taking advantage of a wide open door.

If hackers can do that much damage to Sony, how secure is your business’ network? Can you guarantee your clients’ security? How about your financial records? And how safe is your home computer?

Plenty of attention gets paid to perceived threats around the world, including the “rewarding” of Cuba by opening diplomatic relations. As far as we know, Cuba has not done anything to the United States. Meanwhile, we have menaces running around our networks and they are only getting bolder.

What is the real threat here?

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Steven A. Morelli is editor-in-chief for InsuranceNewsNet. He has more than 25 years of experience as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and insurance periodicals. Connect with Steve →

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