Bond's most realistic enemy ever? Cyber experts say Skyfall risk is 'real'

Rob Waugh
Bond's latest foe uses technology to reach into the heart of MI6 (Image: Norton)

The threats unleashed by Bond villains are not always entirely plausible - from unleashing deadly nerve agents from space in Moonraker, to Christopher Walken's threat to trigger a huge earthquake in Silicon Valley.

But Javier Bardem's cyber assault on the British government - which leaves him and his men free to wreak havoc - is not that implausible, say cyber experts.

Kevin Haley, Norton's Director of Security Technology and Response, explains how Skyfall might showcase the most 'realistic' Bond villain yet.


                             [Related: Watch the web-TV series Cybergeddon here]
 


The villain's lair


Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem) launches his cyber-attacks from a deserted island in the Far East, surrounded by computers - and devoid of the usual armies of henchmen and shark tanks.

“Cybercriminals are known to base some of their operations out of less developed countries that are more lax on policing online security," says Haley

"With their servers protected by “bullet-proof” hosting in these countries, the attackers are free to operate from anywhere in the world.”

Could a terrorist 'shut down' a major nation?

Cyberterrorist Raoul Silva boasts to Bond of his abilities to control and disrupt national infrastructure at the push of button. While the speed might be implausible, the destruction is not, says Haley.

“It wouldn't quite happen at the push of a button,” Kevin says. “Although computer worms like Stuxnet have already demonstrated their power to disrupt on an industrial scale. In 2010, hackers got into an Iranian uranium enrichment facility and were able to cause it to malfunction.

"They programmed the cylinders within the facility to spin so fast that they cracked and broke. This case of cybersabotage will have taken months or maybe years to implement.”



                                            [Related: Watch the Skyfall trailer here]

Can cyberterrorism earn billions?





























Skyfall’s villain has access to helicopters, millions of dollars and well-armed henchmen – all of which can be funded through the type of low-scale fraud employed by hackers across the world.

The industry is worth £69 billion per year, and has already overtaken the global trade in heroin, cocaine and marijuana, according to figures from Norton.

It’s a new kind of organised crime - described by cyber-defence contractor British Aerospace as the ‘fourth era’ of modern crime after the global drug trade, the post World War II black market, and the Prohibition-era trade in alcohol and gambling.  end of the month.”

“Unfortunately hacking can be very profitable,” Kevin says. “Take mobile malware for example. Fraudsters make money by creating trojan mobile apps that on the surface seem like harmless games or tools but once downloaded, they secretly send premium SMS messages. The victim only discovers the trojan app when they’re handed their bill."





Is the new 'young' Q plausible?

As cyber defence becomes more important, younger people ARE moving into senior roles, says Haley.  Ben Whishaw becomes the new  “Q” in Skyfall, just weeks after the British government launched a recruitment drive for 'cyber spies. Whishaw's age - 32 - is a reflection of a new age for defence, says Haley.

“It’s a brave new world for national security where many  of the new players are barely out of their teen years. Casting a young programmer as the new Q reflects the sorts of characters we may now find on the frontline of cyber wars,” Kevin says.