10 Scary Modern Technologies

An IT security researcher looks for computer viruses in Seoul, South Korea in 2013. A cyberattack on the networks that ran three banks, two broadcasters and an ISP was traced to an IP address in China, but experts think the attacks were from North Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Imagine a war fought completely by computer. No, we're not talking about a scene out of the movie "WarGames," we're talking an all-out attack on a nation's electronic infrastructure. What's that, you may ask? Those are the systems that control emergency response services, banks and other electronic commerce, the systems that run the electrical grid, water and fuel pipeline controls, and oh, yeah: defense weaponry. A well-executed attack could cause serious disruption and open the populace up to physical threats.

In 2013, FBI Director James Comey predicted that cyberattacks would soon overtake traditional international terrorism as the greatest threat to homeland security [source: Johnson]. In 2008,Georgia suspected Russia of denial-of-service attacks (which Russia denied) [source: Markoff]. In 2013, South Korea accused North Korea of cyberttacks. Hackers have taken on the Pentagon, and some suspect terrorist organizations of training their operatives to launch computer assaults. So how do you defend against a cyberattack? Educating people about computer viruses and Trojan horses will help, and using updated antivirus software is also important.

Cyberattacks actually might be useful tools against machines that have learned to think for themselves and chosen to eliminate humanity. It's the stuff of science fiction, but why do some people believe this could happen? Learn more on the next page.