US Army invents hacking weapon

President Obama has just created the post of Cybersecurity Coordinator, tasked with protecting America's digital infrastructure, thwarting cyber-terro

President Obama has just created the post of Cybersecurity Coordinator, tasked with protecting America's digital infrastructure, thwarting cyber-terrorists and managing online threats, whether from individual hackers, criminal gangs or hostile nations.

While much of President Obama's speech talked about defending cyberspace, a few US military laboratories have been busy doing exactly the opposite: creating a portable device that enables almost anyone to mount an overwhelming digital attack on enemy networks.

Probably looking like a normal laptop computer (its full specification is classified), the hacking weapon can tap into satellite or internet communications. It can directly infiltrate wireless networks, including the ones used to control chemical factories, water supplies and nuclear power plants. A touchscreen interface will allow soldiers to customise assaults by adjusting graphical sliders, perhaps increasing the speed of an attack or reducing the chance of it being traced back.

By giving infantry the power to launch digital attacks, the US hopes to extend its arms supremacy to the virtual battlefield of cyberspace. The danger, of course, is that just as America's traditional armaments have found their way into the hands of its enemies, hijacked hacking weapons could wreak devastation on the very networks they were designed to protect.