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Hacker Terrorism Hoax or Truth?

An Internet video of cyber attackers actually hacking the lighting controls of a major urban building in order to play the world's most awe-inspiring version of the Space Invaders game is proof of either harmless pranksters creating a convincing fake video or delinquents targeting utility control systems for their own amusement. Representatives of security vendor McAfee believes it's the latter, while the rest of us who were raised to be a bit more skeptical think the former.

"Perhaps the first demo was just for fun, but the others will have less juvenile goals," Francois Paget, a McAfee Avert Labs researcher, ominously warned on his blog last Friday. He posits that an actual attack aimed at utility control systems will result in nationwide damage costing countless amounts of money and a huge psychological blow on the public's morale.

Advanced Government agencies behind SCADA worms

Sensationalist discussions about cyber invaders hacking SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems to cause power outages and other acts of terrorism have reached its peak last year, even though confirmed cases hover around the levels found in 1999 or even 1899—that is, zero occurrences of incidents of this nature.

For the sake of argument, let's say this November 2008 clip could serve as important proof of the upcoming Cyber Armageddon. Now, abandoning that line of reasoning, let's address the fact that this video is a complete and total hoax.

Yves Peitzner, the Munich-based Brainstormclub's managing director and the man responsible for the Skyscraper Space Invaders video, states that the inspiration behind making the clip was "to take the idea of having a computer game in your living room, and take it up to a really big screen."

He adds that he thinks the conversations and debates found in various blogs, forums, and websites are "very interesting", while he's also amused by the idea that there are people who think the video is real. As for the making of his video, he used two separate Munich buildings as backdrops, and then superimposed the "enormous" Space Invaders gameplay during post-production.

The stealth marketing firm originally came up with the concept in 2008 as a promotional idea for a video game conference. When the conference planners reneged on the deal, Brainstormclub opted to make the clip anyway. Eventually, the innovative video became an official nominee at 2009's Webby Awards.
Tragically, regardless of the obvious fakeness of the video, Paget still insists that the clip confirms that cyber criminals and hackers are currently aiming at perpetrating their dastardly deeds at the SCADA networks. Perhaps the McAfee researcher should best occupy his time looking into legitimate hacker threats instead of squawking like Chicken Little over a false security alarm.

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