Some people are afraid to watch Frankenstein and Dracula movies, films about monsters attacking cities, and invasions of space creatures in UFOs.  But these pale compared to attacks we are now seeing that are much scarier.  They can be very lethal. And they don’t leave any fingerprints.

We’re talking about cyber-attacks.  In the words of Check Point Software, they are “made by tech savvy criminals that use computers to attack other computers.  They aim to disable, disrupt, destroy and/or control computer systems.”  This is relatively new but potentially much more dangerous than conventional warfare. 

Cyber attacks can cause enormous damage.  They are becoming more frequent, more brazen, and focus on crucial targets.  Even one successful attack could bring an entire company to a halt, force an entire city to shut down and wreck financial markets in moments.  The good news is that most of these attacks have been thwarted.  But the bad news is that the bad guys are becoming much more sophisticated.  And the scenarios we are watching play out are not movies.  



For whatever reason, many people are afraid something will happen. “Talk of a Cyber 9/11 has been circulating for years,” according to Marie Hawthorne of the Organic Prepper Blog, “And with the next presidential election less than twelve months away, some folks are predicting that a major cyber event will happen before then, throwing a monkey wrench into the 2024 election process.” 

In Hawthorne’s view, there are two worrisome aspects of a cyber 9/11.  The first is the number of people who would be killed and injured by the attack itself.  Another is the subsequent deaths, disruption, and financial losses it would cause.  

Lately there have been numerous strange incidents around the world.  Some have definitely been cyber-attacks. But were they all? 

*The Washington State Dept. of Transportation went offline in early November due to a security hack;

*TriCity Health Care in San Diego, a hospital, was victim of a ransomware attack and forced to divert emergencies to other hospitals;   

*In September, Pizza Hut Australia was hit by a cyber-attack and personal information of 193,000 customers was released on the Dark Web. 

*An even worse attack shut almost 40% of all maritime shipping in Australia.  Four of their largest ports were not operational and at least 30,000 containers and were stuck at various ports around the country.    

*Separately Optus, the second-largest telecom company in Australia, suffered “a mass outage” that impacted 10 million people – nearly half the population.  Trains had to be canceled, businesses were impacted, hospitals couldn’t provide emergency assistance and people unable to use their Internet or their phones.  

Australia was not the only country that was targeted.  So were Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, among others – the US being one of them. 

An investigation by Microsoft revealed that China-based hackers were able to get past the safeguards of a “highly restricted production environment” in May 2023, enabling them to “unlock sensitive email accounts belonging to US government agencies.”

And just a few weeks ago, the Chinese Bank IBC was hit by a cyber-attack that reportedly affected the auction of 30-year US Treasuries.

In September, something strange happened in South Carolina: An F-35, the most lethal jet in the world, went missing.  Several days later, a debris field was found.  The Marine Corps labeled the incident a “Class-A Mishap, but that didn’t stop the rumors that it was hacked.  

In fact, a report from The Project On Government Oversight, a non-partisan watchdog group that investigates government waste and corruption, said “Enemy hackers could potentially shut down crucial systems, steal secret data from the network and onboard computers and perhaps even prevent an F-35 from flying and from accomplishing its missions.”  


All Over

Cyber-attacks are happening more frequently and around the world.  Is it possible there are even more that we are unaware of?

Some incidents in the US in October and November fall into that category. 850,000 payments to US bank deposits were held up for days because “processing errors” delayed them from being credited to their accounts.  Even more worrisome, several days later, the company responsible for resolving this problem was still unable to explain what happened.   

In Kuwait, the Al-Zour Refinery, one of the largest in the Middle East, experienced a “sudden interruption” in fuel and gas supply.  And various Norwegian government ministries “have fallen victim to a cyberattack that lasted “at least four months,” according to Bloomberg. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said what worries him most is not the economy slumping or stocks falling a little every day.  What he’s really afraid of are the markets and banks being hit by crippling cyber-attacks that could cause a devastating market crash.   


Related Problems

Hawthorne fears that such an attack would bring about still more government control at the expense of our freedoms.  And this is both an ongoing and growing concern. The Information Security Forum in London, which works with Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world on security matters, reports a huge increase in cyberattacks.  

How might governments respond if there were such an emergency?  Hawthorne believes banks and governments around the world would consider implementing CBDCs – central bank digital currency.    

In late June, 130 countries representing 98% of the global economy were exploring CBDCs.  During Covid, China used credit systems connected with online banking to enforce compliance, but they proved to be very unpopular.  When Nigeria tried to force CBDCs on its citizens widespread protests broke out.  US Republican Senators introduced legislation to prevent the government from introducing them.  Europeans also oppose them.  

Why all the resistance?  Because in theory, they could be used to control the population. But despite the great objection, this may, one day, come to pass.   

Some months ago, a prankster convinced European Central Bank President Christine LaGarde that he was Ukrainian President Zelensky.  During a phone conversation, she said that CBDCs could be used to control payments people could make – a sure sign that leaders are taking this subject very seriously. 

This is certainly not the first time leaders have been thinking about CBDCs.  But now, improving technology is making its introduction still more possible. Ever-increasing cyber-attacks could be the catalyst that makes this a reality.    


Gerald Harris is a financial and feature writer. Gerald can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.