Belfast Telegraph

Why 2015 could see us all hacked off with the first ever cyber war

By Lindy McDowell

The Millennium aside, (remember Bug paranoia?), doom-mongers rarely predict that the world will end neatly, tidily at midnight on a New Year's Eve. It's always some random date in March or October that may or may not square up with ancient Mayan script or obscure reference from the Book of Revelation.

So, at least we can rest easy this evening, secure in the knowledge that Jools Holland's Hootenanny is unlikely to be interrupted by Armageddon.

However, ... hacking: could that eventually signal the end of civilisation as we know it?

I only mention this because internet hacking seems to have been on a bit of a roll in recent times. And since New Year's Eve is traditionally a time for trying to predict the major trends for the 12 months ahead, hacking could be, as Hollywood might say, a contender.

The year 2014 was when Kim Kardashian's bum was supposed to break the internet. Not Kim Jung Un. Whether either actually did is still open to debate. In the case of the hacked Sony emails, the culprit was just as likely to have been your average neighbourhood nerd as a top secret cyber hit squad overseen by the world's second best-known international ass.

Still. If you're going to attribute blame, a pudgy North Korean despot is as good a villain to point the finger at as any. Even if he is being accused of a crime he perhaps did not commit. (Free the Pyongyang Un!)

The movie was about him after all. Guilty as charged.

According to one excitable expert, the Sony hacking may even have been our first ever cyber war. In traditional war we're told the first victim is truth. In cyber war the first victim turned out to be Angelina Jolie. Closely followed by the inflated egos of Sony execs.

No real harm done there then. Also shattered, however, was the Hollywood myth of bold Americans under fire refusing to bend the knee to threats and violence and saving the world for the rest of us. In this instance all it took was one menacing, grammatically dodgy email and it was hands up and white flags all round.

"Whatever you say Mr Kim."

Normal Hollywood service was only resumed when movie fans ordered the industry to get a grip. Then suddenly it was once again Bruce Willis single-handedly taking on the baddies in Die Hard with a cry of yippee kids-yay mother ... well ... you know the rest ...

The new film itself (apparently woeful) has done well out of the hacking hysteria.

But if this really was cyber war it was hardly blockbuster cyber war.

The big question, though, could there be a sequel?

There's already been a bit of an internet strike on the home front with Xbox and PlayStations hacked over Christmas. Imagine what Hollywood would make of that. Cue a 21st century William Wallace: "They may take away our emails and our movie premieres but they will never take away our Grand Theft Auto."

So far (and yes, I know it spoiled Christmas for many) so innocuous. But all of this points up again, does it not, how utterly reliant our world now is upon the internet. And thus, how very vulnerable.

My prediction for 2015 - bigger, scarier hacking attacks.

I know. I'm starting to sound like one of one of those wee men with megaphones handing out tracts about the End of Days.

So let's take some reassurance from the fact that even the full might of the concerted bombardment of hits on the other Kim's prodigious bum wasn't enough to break the net in 2014.

Chin up, then, for 2015. And a Happy New Year to one and all.

I’m bowled over by Camilla’s little boy

I warmed so much this year to Camilla’s son, the food writer Tom Parker Bowles, after his comments about Press “intrusion”.

Some years ago a tabloid revealed he’d been taking drugs. It made him see sense regarding the drugs, he said, adding: “If a few toffs get caught taking coke and that’s the price you pay for Press freedom, well bring it on. I cannot tell you how strongly I believe that one of the cornerstones of democracy is a free Press.” Now in his food column in a national newspaper he nominates the brilliant Ox in Belfast as one of his top five restaurants in the UK. Belfast, he writes, is one hell of a city.

Tom Parker Bowles, one hell of a guy.

I’m a celebrity, get me out of here

Anybody who is anybody would seem to be in Barbados right now. The papers are full of pics of celebs, like Simon Cowell on their hols seeing in the New Year with sun, sea and photo opportunity as they parade their honed bods on the sandy catwalks. How oblivious to the photographers they all make out to be as they suck in their stomachs, stick out their cleavage and flash their megawatt smiles at no one in particular.

It must be hell having to look your best, to perform, even when you’re supposedly on a get-away-from-it-all break. Then again if they genuinely wanted an away-from-it-all break, they would choose a destination away from all this.

So let’s not feel too sorry for them.

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