A cybersecurity story by Hamza Attar

London, the 2nd of June 2033, Elisabeth Brown a prosperous businesswoman hastening home to take her two daughters to the airport before king’s cross mad rush hour, it’s the journey they’ve been waiting for since last summer. Her smart car assists her in choosing the right route towards home, two pins on the chart her location and the house,

It’s 17° 59' 58" two seconds ere the catastrophe.

17° 59' 59", Elisabeths’ smartphone that’s connected to her car via Bluetooth rings, it’s Sarah, her daughter. “ Hey mommy, we’ve finished packing. When are you going to be ho..” the call disconnects, Elisabeths’ car shows an error message “This device’s clock is not correct.”. She checks her phone to find out that it’s 08° 23' 27" on the 31st of December 2019 while her cars’ time and date are 21° 11' 09" the 15th of June 1986. Her car switches off with no reason and so hundred of millions of vehicles globally, the life stands still, traffic lights go black, phones aren’t working, and wherever she looks, it’s the same error message “This device’s clock is not correct.

“ it’s 18° 00' 00”, doomsday.

Fifteen miles south-west of Elisabeth, at Heathrow airport, 285 feet from the ground, the air traffic control tower of one of the busiest airports on earth everything goes black, all PCs’ are out of service, the silence of the radio communications is louder than the chaos. Drishti Ahuja, the chief operating officer, a single father of three kids, he looks at their picture on his desk and pans left to the runway. He reaches for the ground communications Walkie-talkie.

“𝔸𝕓𝕠𝕣𝕥 𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝕥𝕒𝕜𝕖 𝕠𝕗𝕗 𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕞𝕚𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤, 𝕀 𝕣𝕖𝕡𝕖𝕒𝕥 𝕒𝕓𝕠𝕣𝕥 𝕒𝕝𝕝 𝕥𝕒𝕜𝕖 𝕠𝕗𝕗 𝕡𝕖𝕣𝕞𝕚𝕤𝕤𝕚𝕠𝕟𝕤, 𝕨𝕖 𝕒𝕣𝕖 𝕦𝕟𝕕𝕖𝕣 𝕒 𝕔𝕪𝕓𝕖𝕣𝕒𝕥𝕥𝕒𝕔𝕜.”

Three thousand four hundred fifty-nine miles south-west of Heathrow airport, at NBS TV headquarters in New York. Hannah Rayan the CISO is standing in the middle of the new building witnessing the panic, and nothing works, newsroom systems are down; programs are not communicating, everything seems working and blinking green yet not responding. Hannahs’ eyes are shifting from a screen to another, and the sweat burns her eyes, she takes off her glasses, closes her eyes and sighs. Seconds later, she puts her glasses back and moves towards the IT department, the only department everyone is blaming now, she grabs a chair and sits next to an IT supervisor.

Hannah: Tom, it’s a DDoS NTP attack, all these devices are not communicating today, some of them are yesterday, the others are in 2050!

Tom: You are right, but honestly, this is not the problem now!

Hannah: what do you mean?!

Tom: We are not the system administrators anymore! We’ve been kicked out; we are helpless!

June in London has changed dramatically over the last 13 years. Forty degrees Celsius in the once called -big smoke- the city is now a typical summer. Elisabeth couldn’t stay in the car anymore, the AC is down, and the breath is almost impossible, she reaches for the door handle, it doesn’t open, she hits the door then the window’s glass, the glass cracks and it took her one more strike to break it. Elisabeth leaves the car and what she has just done was the ordinary scene around her, now all she can hear is an ugly orchestra of anti-theft devices barking from all the cars around her in king’s cross and all vehicles globally.

The drama resumes, smartphones all over the world are acting weirdly, users are stunned by messages from their service providers informing them that they’ve reached the maximum of their data bundles, the smartphones are extracting data and uploading it “somewhere”. Those who are lucky and not yet hit by the cyberattack are bewildered by what they see on social media; their friends are shaming themselves by posting their secret messages and sensitive content publicly. It’s a public scandal, and users are not the rightful owners of their content anymore.

Illustration: Owen Freeman for The Intercept

𝙽𝚘𝚝 𝚘𝚗𝚕𝚢 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚢 𝚜𝚑𝚊𝚛𝚎𝚍 𝚙𝚛𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚘𝚞𝚜𝚕𝚢 𝚘𝚗 𝚜𝚘𝚌𝚒𝚊𝚕 𝚖𝚎𝚍𝚒𝚊 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚒𝚛 𝚌𝚑𝚊𝚝𝚜 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚎𝚜𝚜𝚊𝚐𝚎𝚜, 𝚋𝚞𝚝 𝚠𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚒𝚛 𝚑𝚊𝚛𝚍 𝚍𝚛𝚒𝚟𝚎𝚜 𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚛𝚎d. 𝙰𝚗𝚢 𝚍𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚌𝚎 𝚌𝚘𝚗𝚗𝚎𝚌𝚝𝚎𝚍 𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚒𝚛 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚙𝚞𝚝𝚎𝚛𝚜 𝚒𝚜 𝚍𝚎𝚏𝚎𝚗𝚌𝚎𝚕𝚎𝚜𝚜,

The internet routers at home, are compromised. Their personal lives aren’t a secret anymore, “I’m not a robot box” has been checked without their consents.

Elisabeth neglected her car and started wandering around; there should be chaos, but there is not, the people are so shocked to talk. Mrs brown felt tinnitus in her ears, waves of vibrations underneath her, followed by interrupted metal clanks. Seconds later, shocking waves of explosions flicked everything on her sight, including herself almost a meter and a half away from the ground. The shock that sent her into the air dropped her harshly on the ground, she and thousands else groaned of bruises and broken bones before opening their eyes to witness the collapse of St Pancras hotel. The destruction started from the towers down, the 160 years old monument is leaning towards the earth. The shockwaves aren’t stopping, and each of them is collapsing a building nearby until one of them sucked king’s cross station underground, a massive hole in the ground that swallowed the gigantic train station. The cyberattack has damaged Londons’ underground systems, domestic and international trains are colliding by their speed.

Bruised legs, bleeding head and broken glasses Elisabeth honed her powers, thinking only of Sarah and Megan, her daughters; she crawls towards her car, hoping to reach her “first aid kit” before the next series of shockwaves. These shockwaves destroyed many cars and threw others meters away. Elisabeth crawls farther, her vision is blurry, and the pain is beyond ignoring, she lays down on her back to rest her body and dry her tears.

A strong atheist woman yelled helplessly in tears at god: “WHY, JUST WHY!!”

Her appeals ascended higher and higher flying over London’s panoramic destruction view, over the smoke; the cries flew higher and higher to reach an altitude of 30,000 ft and where they were sucked by Lufthansa 747–800 engines heading to frankfurt, Germany.

End of Part 1

Candidate: MA Strategic Studies @DSD_Kings | PG Digital Strategies, @Columbia_Biz & @MIT via @EMERITUS_INST | MENA OpsM @enexnews |

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