1. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37

    Financial Hacking

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Killer300, Jul 9, 2011.

    Okay, I've heard that a good enough hacker could, in theory, shut down entire economies. Well, if so, I have many questions to ask about this for my story.

    1. Could a hacker like this perhaps cause hyperinflation? If so, how?
    2. Could a hacker like this cause every business in a country to shut down?

    I ask these because of the damage I'm thinking of a hacker to cause.
     
  2. Cain
    Offline

    Cain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    I can't think of anything they could do to directly create hyperinflation. The closest I could imagine is the 'fire sale' story where they push our society into breaking point (by collapsing our infrastructure so much nobody can get to work, buy food etc). That in turn would then cause hyperinflation maybe, although it'd be a symptom of the situation, not a cause created by the hackers.
     
  3. WriterDude
    Offline

    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    738
    Likes Received:
    37
    Location:
    Icy cold wastes of Hell. Aka Norway.
    The closet I've read was a crazy woman trying to nuke Wall Street. Her idea was that if WS blew up, it would ruin the economy all over the world and make all digital money worthless. I have no idea how plausible that was, but it might be worth a little research.
     
  4. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Ah, I see. Well, the hacker can still cause immense damage perhaps, indirectly. Very helpful so far guys.
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Pick up a copy of Live Free or Die Hard on DVD or BluRay. The cyberterrorists aren't causing hyperinflation, but they do attempt the Fire Sale scenario Cain mentioned.
     
  6. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Ah, yeah, I saw that actually, but wanted to make sure there wasn't a more... delicate method shall we say. But anyway, I'll probably now just use something like that. Thanks guys.:)
     
  7. SteamWolf
    Offline

    SteamWolf Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Messages:
    153
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Newcastle
    Look up Yes Men and Union Carbide (Dow Corning) for how to cause economic ruin to a business.

    Also, ever thought what would happen if a software comany (such as Microsoft) had their automatic updates tampered with? Imagine what would happen if every PC is infected with hostile software unwittingly provided by such a company.
     
  8. tiggertaebo
    Offline

    tiggertaebo Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Cumbria UK
    Probably the most subtle way a hacker could cause hyperinflation would be to articificially increase the supply of credit. Since many applications for credit are automated manipluations of these systems to approve loans/credit card limits far in excess of what would normally be the case would have a significant disruptive effect. It would also be (relatively) hard to spot since most of the people dishing out this sort of credit wouldn't be doing anything more then going off what the computer said.

    If you wanted something a bit more sudden then simultaneously set everyone's bank balance to be very high (say 2 million) and destroy as much information about the previous levels as possible. While it would be immediately evident that something nefarious was going on if you can make it take long enough for them to get on top of it then you'll find alot of people will be withdrawing substantial amounts of cash etc and before long no-one will have any clue who should have what money and you can kiss confidence in the economy goodbye.
     
  9. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    okay, THIS IS AWESOME! Each one of those could be a plot onto itself.
     
  10. elneilio10
    Offline

    elneilio10 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2011
    Messages:
    34
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting request opening poster. I'll offer a few opinions so long as you PROMISE not to go all anarchical on us! ;)

    >>> 1)

    I'd say that's entirely possible (or would at least appear to be) as others have already stated so I won't go there again. What I would like to suggest though is that you consider reviewing cases of economies that suffered hyperinflation. Off the top of my head, I can think of Argentina (a couple of years back), Zimbabwe (a few years further back still, iirc, and though I'm not sure it was Zimbabwe, I know it was a South African nation) and Hitler's Germany.

    A lot of it stemmed from consumers losing confidence in their country (including its economy, its currency and other elements) along with supply and demand market forces breaking down.

    >>> 2)

    To cause "every" company in a country to fail would be quite some task. Nuking Wall Street (as already suggested) sounds a little OTT if you're NOT trying to destroy the WHOLE of the world. A little extreme? Too apocalyptic??? ;)

    Then, you've got the recent episode of alleged North Korean cyber attacks on South Korea. According to McAffee, NK was most likely responsible anyway. Cyber-terrorists there executed DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attacks that caused their war-time neighbours no end of trouble. Rogue software was designed to infect computers so that these computers would try accessing South Korean websites in their shed-loads. The SK websites couldn't handle all the page "hits" and crashed as a result. Elementary cyberterrorism I guess and a little brinkmanship on NK's part. Naturally, as methods of such cyber attacks become more refined, so too will the defences against such attacks. It's kind of an evolutionary arms race if you like and no doubt South Korea won't be so vulnerable next time. Hopefully, anyway!

    But are all businesses on-line? Undoubtedly not, I'd say. But they are all inter-dependent in some way.

    So things you could attack (list not completely extensive) include:

    Oil companies / energy providers - complicated a little by some organisations being more global than others.

    Water - more of 'national' concern than oil, I'd say. Everyone needs water to live. A lot of industry is also heavily dependent on a water supply.

    Infrastructure - bring chaos to the roads, rail, the air and the sea and you'll have a massive headache on someone's hands!

    Banking - as already discussed by others.

    To use a topical example, you could even attack the media in the form of newspapers and the printers they're dependent on. If you could hack the final copies before newspapers go to print with the right subversive messages, you could generate a whole lot of chaos, I reckon.

    The majority of people are "working class" - ie. not that bright. With the right words / photoshopped images you could have a civil war on your hands in next to no time, I'd imagine.

    To be certain though, you'd probably want numerous targets as in "all of the above". Of course, some of these potential targets will have better safeguards in place than others so you might have to do a fair bit of research for your target audience to find the story convincing.

    If you haven't seen it already, you may wish to check out the film, Eagle Eye. That could give you some food for thought.

    Good luck
     
  11. Cain
    Offline

    Cain Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Cambridge, UK
    One niggle I have that'd be cool if you can avoid it, is the single weak point scenario. I think 'Live Free or Die Hard' was guilty of this too. We have a huge world of disparate systems, companies, governments, interests etc, and yet somehow the hackers have discovered that the world's entire information is going through a single system somewhere or other, and all they have to do is hack that and have control of the world muwahahaha! Deus ex machina stuff really...
     
  12. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Sure. They just need to hack the voting machines to be elected president, make sure the government takes out huge loans, and spend them on consumption. At first, it gives the economy a huge boom together with inflation, but when the money is spent, the country's businesses will be producing stuff nobody can afford any longer, and will go belly-up.

    On a more serious note... let's say you want the US$ to hyperinflate. The US$ is used for international trade, and other countries and companies have huge savings in US$. So you make sure those countries and companies spend their savings. For example, you hack into their computers, or their bank's computers, and trade their dollars for Euros or Yen. The market is flooded with dollars. Or you cause disasters for those countries and companies, so they need to use their savings to rebuild. Once again, the market is flooded with dollars.
    I'm not sure it'd be so bad for the USA, though - their goods and sercies would become cheaper abroad and they'd get to export more.

    A better way could be to force a government to take out huge loans, and ruin the trust that they'll be able to pay it back. One of the most efficient ways I can think of is to force the country into war.
     
  13. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Hmm, right now I'm thinking of a plot where when one party gets elected, the economy crashes, and when the party the hacker wants gets in, it rises again. Yes, this hacker is so good she controls the world economy, and will continue to do so. But anyway, hope you guys can continue to suggest stuff.:)
     
  14. flipflop
    Offline

    flipflop Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    Likes Received:
    5
    The ability of a single hacker to affect a whole country by means of hacking is marginal. Countries already have security measures that prevent inflation from cyber warfare. These include shutting stock markets and freezing prices, backed by strong penalties ie jail for offenders.

    There is currently an on going battle between countries in a die hard style way that we just don't see countries are always trying to give there own economy a boost by these methods. Research news articles on china and cyber warfare and you will be surprised by the results.

    Unfortunately there is no thing as a secure computer and computers are being targeted all the time. How ever it is theoretically possible to gridlock key parts of the net causing a large scale temporary halt to the internet but it is only a short halt and would be back up and running in a couple of hours.

    In theory if your MC can solve the greatest cryptographic problem of all (Factoring the primes)
    they would end ALL secure online transactions.This would cause world wide havoc. Look up information on R.S.A. encryption algorithm for details

    here is a brief overview

    p is a very large prime number
    q is also a very large prime number
    n=p*q a very large number
    e is an encryption key
    d is a decryption key such that
    ed=1mod(p-1)(q-1)
    m is a message
    c is a encoded message
    c=m^e mod n
    our encrypted message is gained by taking our normal message and raising it to the power of our encryption key modulus n
    to reverse it we use
    m=c^d mod n
    e and n can be made publicly available to anyone to use so all messages can be encrypted but d is kept secret so only the person who the message was intended for can read the message.
    The only way to break the code is to find out p and q or d
    d is a secret
    if we take n and figure out what p and q is then the code is broken but this currently takes decades to do by which time the code is changed.

    hope this helps in some way.
     
  15. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,371
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Why hyperinflation? Its an odd sort of way to destroy an economy. The more likely scenario would surely be the nuking of records about business transcations and holdings. Damage sufficient financial information, and companies couldn't survive. How could they pay their workers if they have no idea how much they have in the bank? How could they buy products from other businesses if they have no way of proving their financial wealth? And what would everyone's shares be worth? This doesn't cause hyperinflation it causes the opposite, a complete economic collapse, where values plummet and no one is sure what they can spend money on. So then they retrench, buy only the essentials, food and shelter etc, move to bartering where possible, and loads more businesses, i.e. those providing non-esssentials - airports, vacations, makeup, entertainment etc, collapse.

    Think the crash that just happened two years ago, where it was only houses and mortgage lenders that found they were badly overvalued, and then multiply by as much as you want. Do enough damage and the economy would never recover.

    Cheers.
     
  16. Killer300
    Offline

    Killer300 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2011
    Messages:
    1,064
    Likes Received:
    37
    Ah, thanks guys. Well, I'm trying to contain the crash to a single country, the USA in this instance, and I thought by destroying the worth of a single currency, that could work. Now I realize that's impossible, and regardless of what she does, she'll destroy the world's entire economy, not just the USA's.

    Well, she'll make a virus that destroys financial records. The virus eats through defenses easily. She's one of the world's best hackers, and is doing this for vegeance, against capitalism itself.
     

Share This Page