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Behind Cyberwar FUD

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-blame-the-schools dept.

Security 98

Nicola Hahn writes "The inevitable occurred this week as The Economist broached the topic of cyberwar with a couple of articles in its July 3rd issue. The first article concludes that 'countries should agree on more modest accords, or even just informal "rules of the road" that would raise the political cost of cyber-attacks.' It also makes vague references to 'greater co-operation between governments and the private sector.' When attribution is a lost cause (and it is), international treaties are meaningless because there's no way to determine if a participant has broken them. The second recommendation is even more alarming because it's using a loaded phrase that, in the past couple of years, has been wielded by those who advocate Orwellian solutions. The other article is a morass of conflicting messages. It presumes to focus on cyberwar, yet the bulk of the material deals with cybercrime and run-of-the-mill espionage. Then there's also the standard ploy of hypothetical scenarios: depicting how we might be attacked and what the potential outcome of these attacks could be. The author concludes with the ominous warning that terrorists 'prefer the gory theatre of suicide-bombings to the anonymity of computer sabotage — for now.' What's truly disturbing is that The Economist never goes beyond a superficial analysis of the topic to examine what's driving all of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (PDF), a subject dealt with in this Lockdown 2010 white paper."

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Yup (3, Interesting)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791642)

Still posting at -1

Re:Yup (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793070)

sorry but...looking for easy sympathy karma don't work this way.

Re:Yup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32794528)

I wonder why you have bad karma... could it be that you post retarded shit like this?

So you are taking Economist seriously. (1, Insightful)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791646)

i guess you have never read it before. Economist is a private interest mouthpiece that serves whatever their financiers tell them to do, depending on what their backers need as policy at any given period. Judging from the contents of your summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

EVERY media outlet. (5, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791712)

Every media outlet, should be read, viewed or listened to with a critical eye or ear. It's not just for media companies with a policy of bias, such as Fox News' conservative bias (American version), but also for normal human bias. To take any media outlet as being 100% unbiased truth is foolish.

The Economist is a bit conservative on the side business, but as far as being their lackey - I'm not so sure about that. Sometimes they come out with things that can be interpreted as almost anti-business. They've also been doing some rather critical pieces on BP lately as an example.

Or is BP behind on their payments to the Economist?

Re:EVERY media outlet. (2, Informative)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791726)

Bandwagons.... everyone has one.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32791752)

Bandwagons.... everyone has one.

Except for the Church of Scientology.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32791796)

They use those DC-10 looking spaceships right?

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1)

catman (1412) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792786)

ITYM DC-8

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792468)

Bandwagons.... everyone has one.

As easy as it is to jump on one, it is easy to jump off, too.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32794486)

Tell that to everyone being drip-fed off Microsoft's software.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791782)

Even a biased publication has to look out for its reputation, propaganda is worthless if people just ignore it and slamming a company that's already in bad reputation is an easy reputation boost.

Then again with the sales numbers of tabloids I'm not sure people ignore disreputable sources...

Re:EVERY media outlet. (2, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791806)

Well, here's the thing, Fox News doesn't seem to have any trouble attracting viewers, and it's been pretty much garbage since the day it was created. Likewise AM talk radio doesn't even pretend to accurately portray reality. I don't think that reputation is really something that matters as much as perhaps it should.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32792636)

Fox has mostly talk shows. And if you listened close enough you'd hear that portion when the commenter on each show speaks. I personally stopped watching Fox a long time ago for that very reason. They have more talk shows than they do news at this point. Do not confuse a talk show with news. Even then the news they report on is biased just as much as CNN, NBC, and CBS report on news, but don't bash one without at least admitting the bias of the others. Without comparing the two, you become what you're complaining about. But that is all be sides the point since all TV news broadcasters at this point are just shills.

Fox news and the right to lie. (2, Informative)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792922)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Akre [wikipedia.org]

What other "news" organization would go to court to defend their right to lie in a "news" story?

If you tell the viewers what the viewers want to hear (regardless of any factual basis) then you will attract a lot of viewers.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32792594)

verbally tell that to the sheep of the world since they don't listen to talk radio or read 3rd party sites such as /. Otherwise you're just preaching to the choir.

Youre not sure about that ? (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792654)

that means you havent been following economist.

precisely the articles/views that any given american conglomerate dominant in any given field is publicized in economist exactly at the convenient times. no earlier, no less. american media industry stages an attack against net neutrality ? you will find economist either preceding it with an article or following immediately after it starts. copenhagen talks are coming up in regard to climate ? same. moreover, the views and defenses it reflects also continues in lockstep with whatever that industry is using at any given time - ie, economist does not oppose carbon tax or climate change in ways that are different than the industry it is being a mouthpiece for - it uses the exact chosen argument of that industry at that given time. when the industry drops the 'sun is heating the earth' excuse, economist drops it too. when the industry sees that the 'it is a cycle' approach is not so sound anymore, economist doesnt insist, it updates its approach.

they are doing critical pieces on bp, probably because it is first a british corporation, second, it screwed up SO bad, third, bp going out of scene will make it easier for american oil companies. all is calculated.

Re:Youre not sure about that ? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32793104)

If it gets busted, it can be "liquidated" (cut up). The bad pieces - the debt - can then be bundled separately and shiped off to international central-banks' debts, to be paid off by the people.

Meanwhile, the "good" parts are re-bundled, bought up (with emergency, government-backed loans) and integrated into som lesser company (or agglomeration tereof). Which then becomes "BP" again, with another name, swallowed up from the inside. The same names, however, will crop up in the new boardrooms, and as investors, shareholders, etc. It's sort of an economic "Alien's" game. facehuggers and all.

The Economist used to be good (1)

Alan R Light (1277886) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793628)

It's still better than most publications, but ten years ago it was great.

I have noticed a decline in the quality of their reporting, and a greater willingness to toe the government line.

I recently let my subscription lapse.

Re:EVERY media outlet. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794690)

From the CIA, organised crime, KGB, FSB, MI5/6, ready made press kits, philanthropists, faith based groups, political activist to todays need to play safe and friendly to keep "assess".
Someone is pushing something, best just to read all you can and see who had the better overview as history rolls out.
Some always stand out as having got it more correct than just trying to hide or shape.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (3, Interesting)

k10quaint (1344115) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791724)

Someone is standing a bit to the left of Lenin. Oh, and as far as cyber wars go, the one between 4chan and Youtube seems to be heating up!

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (0, Troll)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791820)

Somebody needs to go back to school and get themselves an education. I think that somebody might be k10quaint. I must have missed the GP advocating murdering the rich and seizing all their properties in order to have a workers paradise. Seriously, these sorts of asinine posts are why we in America can't have any good things, we've got a lot of dumb asses making comments about how it communist to not be for the full completely unregulated economy that they want. Never mind that Adam Smith felt very strongly that such an economy wouldn't work because you'd inevitably end up with monopoly coverage by one source over everything.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

k10quaint (1344115) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791934)

Why can't I feed the trolls? With proper care and feeding, we may be able to get them to breed in captivity :)
Mr Hedwards, I have an excellent education thank you. Please allow me to further yours. The GP was calling out a private institution for advocating business interests, as if this was somehow a terrible thing. Oh, and he used hyperbole, which I did as well in referencing Lenin.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792172)

They're already breeding in captivity. Have you looked in their mother's basements?

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793656)

With proper care and feeding, we may be able to get them to breed in captivity :)

Why in the world would you want to do that? It's not like there's a shortage. That would be like a concerted effort to cultivate kudzu cross bred with poison ivy.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792418)

we've got a lot of dumb asses making comments about how it communist to not be for the full completely unregulated economy that they want. Never mind that Adam Smith felt very strongly that such an economy wouldn't work because

Yeah, well, Adam Smith was a commie-symp bastard, then! Patooie!

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792316)

Someone is standing a bit to the left of Lenin. Oh, and as far as cyber wars go, the one between 4chan and Youtube seems to be heating up!

Shhhh! You don't want Barack to shut down the internet [cnet.com] , do you?

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792530)

I don't know, I mean if it takes 4chan with it...

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794510)

4chan is just the online manifestation of sociopathic forces which have been in effect for the entire existence of civilization. You're essentially stating your desire to stick your head in the sand, as the metaphor goes.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795740)

That breeze that just messed up your hair was the joke going over your head. Would you like a phonebook?

and (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792664)

what's the problem with standing a bit to the left of lenin, come again ?

rupert murdoch gets his stomach upset when he sees one ? or, fox news says so ?

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1, Insightful)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791744)

Judging from the contents of your summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

No, The Economist seems to be blowing the government, at least in this case.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32791822)

So long as they're not blowing a vuvuzela, who cares.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (4, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791840)

Economist is a private interest mouthpiece that serves whatever their financiers tell them to do, depending on what their backers need as policy at any given period. Judging from the contents of your summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

The Economist has been around since 1843.

It is anchored in a classically liberal and centrist tradition - and has never been particularly well-known for boot-licking.

Too often when visiting here I find evidence that the eternally adolescent geek simply can't accept that there can be a principled opposition to his own set beliefs.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

LaRainette (1739938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794858)

Doesn't change the fact that they supported the RIAA and more generally speaking the whole music and film industry in what will probably be recalled in History as the stupidest and most reactionary suicide of all time by an industry.
And that's not (by far) their most disputable position.

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion and every publication is entitled to publish what it feels should be published, and to cover the news with the angle it sees fit.
but afterwards you have to either take responsibility for the stupid positions you took or to revise them. You can't just say "Hey it was our opinion so we printed it all over the world and try to convince people we were right when in fact we were just short sighted, old reactionary fossils who couldn't deal with the fact that the internet was going to change the world and we still are proud of it so now let us be."

At some point associated with the various powers that are entitled to each of us come certain responsibilities that (supposedly) are in relation with the amount of power that we were given. For a Newspaper this power would be the freedom to print whatever they feel should be printed combined with the potential audience they can reach and the power of persuasion they have upon this audience.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791902)

Are you kidding? "The Economist" is the print edition of MENSA - anyone stupid enough to buy into either one shows that they're not really all that smart.

The real genius is in milking the "sophisticates".

Moo!

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1, Interesting)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791948)

summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

While it would not surprise me at all if that's true, the 'whitepaper' referenced in the summary reads like a poorly researched conspiracy theory. It says this about the Wall Street Journal without providing a reference:

So whats going on is that you have one large corporation selling its product to other large corporations, where the product is the eyes and ears of the ruling class.

It also makes claims about attribution being NP Complete without providing a single citation in that entire section.

The driving force behind the cyberwar terminology really does need to be outed, but this paper doesn't do it.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (4, Informative)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792118)

one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

The Economist is the world's best weekly newspaper. If you read what they say about the RIAA [economist.com] , including the first article which mentions how the RIAA's agressive tactics aren't working and are a lesson to other industries on what _not_ to do, you'd know that the Economist takes a moderate view on intellectual property.

In particular, they often report on academic research showing that IP laws are too strong. For instance, this article [economist.com] (subscription required) called "Killing Creativity" is about how overly strong IP laws can smother innovation.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32802470)

In particular, they often report on academic research showing that IP laws are too strong. For instance, this article [economist.com] (subscription required) called "Killing Creativity" is about how overly strong IP laws can smother innovation.

Invalid Citation: Paywall Obfuscated. Please try again. Thank you.

Not since the crash (2, Insightful)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792136)

So called followers of Adam Smith have been reading the old boy a bit since the crash,and realised that he would have disapproved of almost everything they were supporting. The Economist hasn't really admitted that they bet their money on the bob-tailed nag - but they do seem recently to have remembered a bit that AS was opposed to cartels, and supported the free exchange of information.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795354)

Economist is a private interest mouthpiece that serves whatever their financiers tell them to do,

Or, as the paper referenced in the summary suggests, their reporters are suceptible to manipulation of public opinion by organizations like the CIA.

Judging from the contents of your summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

The RIAA doesn't have to hide their agenda. They might make up outlandish statistics, but they are pretty straightforward about the problem being piracy rather than cyberterrorism.

Someone (the CIA?) is angling for control over the Internet. But they can't sell it based on their actual agenda. That sounds a lot like the sorts of propoganda operations they (the CIA) likes to run but don't work too well in societies where alternatives to mainstream media can call bullshit on planted stories.

Re:So you are taking Economist seriously. (1)

Oldstench (1180217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799656)

i guess you have never read it before. Economist is a private interest mouthpiece that serves whatever their financiers tell them to do, depending on what their backers need as policy at any given period. Judging from the contents of your summary, one can easily say that this time the group they are licking the boots of is RIAA.

Look at how dumb you are.

yeap (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32801230)

uhaha huahahap hahap yeap yeap.

"Turn off our electricity" (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791750)

The internet was designed for convenience and reliability, not security.

The logical conclusion should be, "disconnect security sensitive systems from the Internet, go back to the older ways of managing those systems and design more secure networks for those systems." Oh, sorry, I forgot that convenience is actually more important than anything else, so that will never happen.

Convenience? (4, Interesting)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791856)

What's convenient about electrical grid systems designed to fail [cnet.com] ? We've even had the East Coast power grid, which includes part of the midwest and Canada fall down, allegedly related to some idiot using Microsoft products in mission critical situations. We've also had extended air traffic shut downs [techworld.com] for the world's 8th largest economy. But hey check out that spin. The headline says it's the fault of the flunky who needs to reboot the Microsoft "server" every few hours, rather than hanging up the criminals who replaced working systems with Microsoft products.

Secure systems are convenient: they work.

Northeast Regional Power Outages 1965-2010 (2, Informative)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793920)

We've even had the East Coast power grid, which includes part of the midwest and Canada fall down, allegedly related to some idiot using Microsoft products in mission critical situations.

1965 Nov 9 Northeast Blackout [wikipedia.org] Cascading series of transmission line overloads traced to safety relay at Niagara's Adam Beck station. (human error)

1977 July 13 New York City Blackout of 1977 [wikipedia.org] (Lightning strikes take out four transmission lines)

1998 January (ice storms)

1999 July 5 (Boundary Waters-Canadian Derecho)

2003 August 14 Northeast Blackout of 2003 [wikipedia.org]

In February 2004, the U.S.-Canada Power System Outage Task Force released their final report, placing the main cause of the blackout on FirstEnergy Corporation's failure to trim trees in part of its Ohio service area. The report states that a generating plant in Eastlake, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland) went offline amid high electrical demand, putting a strain on high-voltage power lines (located in a distant rural setting) which later went out of service when they came in contact with "overgrown trees". The cascading effect that resulted ultimately forced the shutdown of more than 100 power plants.

Computer failure

A software bug known as a race condition existed in General Electric Energy's Unix-based XA/21 energy management system. Once triggered, the bug stalled FirstEnergy's control room alarm system for over an hour. System operators were unaware of the malfunction; the failure deprived them of both audio and visual alerts for important changes in system state. After the alarm system failure, unprocessed events queued up and the primary server failed within 30 minutes. Then all applications (including the stalled alarm system) were automatically transferred to the backup server, which itself failed at 14:54. The server failures slowed the screen refresh rate of the operators' computer consoles from 1-3 seconds to 59 seconds per screen. The lack of alarms led operators to dismiss a call from American Electric Power about the tripping and reclosure of a 345 kV shared line in northeast Ohio. Technical support informed control room personnel of the alarm system failure at 15:42.

2003 Sept 29 (Hurricane Isabel)

2005 Dec 19 (ice storms)

2006 July 17-18 (severe thunderstorms)

2006 Oct 12 "October Surprise" (lake-effect snow storm, Buffalo, NY)

List of notable wide-scale power outages [wikipedia.org]

Not one of the - world's great - power outages on the Wikipedia's list is linked in any way to Microsoft or Windows.

On Tuesday, FAA officials had insisted that the more than three-hour system shutdown posed no safety risks. But they acknowledged Wednesday that they were investigating five incidents in which planes lost the required separation distance during the first 15 minutes of the communications breakdown.
In two cases, large airliners -- a UPS cargo plane and a Northwest Airlines flight bound for Southern California airports -- came much closer to small corporate jets than federal guidelines allow, requiring at least one pilot to take corrective action. FAA officials repeated Wednesday that they did not believe lives were ever at risk.
The agency's radio system in Palmdale shut itself down Tuesday afternoon because a technician failed to reset an internal clock -- a routine maintenance procedure required every 30 days by the FAA. Then a backup system failed, also as a result of technician error, officials said.
The radar system in Palmdale, contrary to what some FAA and union officials had said Tuesday, did not shut down.
FAA officials said they had known for more than a year that a software glitch could shut down radio communications and were in the process of fixing it. In the meantime, they required manual resetting of the communications system -- a process they described as similar to rebooting a personal computer.
The problem so far has been corrected only in Seattle, one of 21 FAA regional air-traffic control centers that have used the system since the mid-1990s.
Human Errors Silenced Airports [latimes.com] (Sept 16, 2004)

The story is six years old - the elephant never forgets - but we seem to have survived after all.

Re:Northeast Regional Power Outages 1965-2010 (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799052)

Thanks. I was trying to figure out what the frack he was talking about, since I certainly never remember losing part of the grid because of any MS system failure. Since I used to work in the electrical generation/distribution industry I tend to pay attention to it, and couldn't think of a single instance. Figured he was full of crap, and it was nice to have someone else do the work of looking it up for me. Probably another Apple fanboi.

Re:"Turn off our electricity" (4, Informative)

darkfire5252 (760516) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792726)

The logical conclusion should be, "disconnect security sensitive systems from the Internet, go back to the older ways of managing those systems and design more secure networks for those systems."

The reason that some people give 'cyberwar' more thought than that is that it's not as simple as you make it out to be. I'm a coauthor on a DOE sponsored paper (under security review, so no citation for now) that covers some more subtle aspects of the problem. The electrical grid can be attacked by compromising the control system if that system is internet connected, true. However, if a significant proportion of the electrical load for any one generator can be controlled via the internet, then that generator can be attacked via the internet without requiring any direct internet contact. Case in point, X10, Google, Microsoft, and many other companies are currently looking into home automation and controlling the home's electrical system via the computer. So, what happens the next time there's a runaway MS worm, but instead of just sending spam it gives control of the home automation system to the attacker? Simply by turning the power off in enough houses in an area, an attacker could actually cause physical damage to the power plant.

That's why we can't just dismiss the problem as "unhook the power plants from the internet." In a world that's increasingly hooked to the internet, we can't afford to overlook how the internet-connected components can possibly have an effect on the non-connected components.

Re:"Turn off our electricity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32794344)

Simply by turning the power off in enough houses in an area, an attacker could actually cause physical damage to the power plant.

How does dropping circuit load cause damage to the plant?

Re:"Turn off our electricity" (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799094)

Generators are designed to increase or decrease the power they supply to the grid over a matter of minutes rather than seconds, so theoretically if a large enough drop in usage occurs the generator could over-speed for a few minutes.

In reality it's not an issue, since there are a minimum of three different systems between generator and end-user that would all have to fail simultaneously and catastrophically, and even then there is equipment built into the generator that monitors and compensates for an over-speed condition. If this weren't the case every time a raccoon shorted out a transformer and took down a substation the generation facility would suffer damage.

Re:"Turn off our electricity" (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799242)

You're thinking too hard. Look at it from the point of view of a terrorist and just ask, "How can I take down the electrical grid?" Sending someone to school for several years to learn programming and then hoping that they're bright enough to create a worm that evades evades firewalls and antivirus products long enough to actually get control of something, then hoping that he doesn't get caught, and then hoping that they're at the same time stupid enough to hand that control over to you rather than extorting money from the power company, well it just doesn't sound like a recipe for success to me.

On the other hand, they can send 20 guys across the Mexican border to spread out across the country, buy second-hand cars and work washing dishes or mowing grass just like any other illegal, and buy a deer rifle off Craig's List. Then at a certain date and time they each shoot the hell out of the largest substation in their area.

Crash goes the grid. Then when it is finally brought back online they can do it again, because there is almost no chance of them being caught the first time. A third time and the power companies are out of spares, and backorder times on most large transformers and relays are 3-15 months.

That's what keeps the utilities' security managers awake at night, not the fear of SuperCracker(TM).

Nice you can get some gov't funding. Milk that cow for all its worth, I suppose.

Re:"Turn off our electricity" (1)

Beliskner (566513) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794782)

The logical conclusion should be, "disconnect security sensitive systems from the Internet, go back to the older ways of managing those systems and design more secure networks for those systems."

Or it's equivalent:

iptables -P INPUT DROP

iptables -P OUTPUT DROP

A-ha! A computer terminal! Mwhahahaha! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32791792)

>I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
>Greetings Mr. President

>DOWNLOAD ALL SECRET FILES TO DISKETTE
Working....Done.

>DEORBIT SURVEILLANCE AND COMMUNICATION SATELLITES
Working...Done.

>TURN OFF NORTH AMERICAN POWER GRID
Working....D


.

Re:A-ha! A computer terminal! Mwhahahaha! (1)

warGod3 (198094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792220)

More like: "Shall we play a game?"

Re:A-ha! A computer terminal! Mwhahahaha! (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793344)

That's why the NSA has developed edsh, a new shell to use on *nix computers. The following is an actual transcript from an occasion when an NSA agent has accidentally left an edsh session open and an attacker tried to abuse it.

~ # ls
?
~ # cd /
?
~ # login
?
~ # jsmith
?
~ # help
?
~ # ^D
?
~ # ^C
?
~ # ?
?
~ # I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
?
~ #

You see, edsh has completely thwarted the attack. It is for this reason, that it will soon be declared the standard shell.

Re:A-ha! A computer terminal! Mwhahahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32795176)

+1 if had mood points, thanks for the laugh

Re:A-ha! A computer terminal! Mwhahahaha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32795790)

Cheers! ( And the bitch of it is, I hadn't intended it to be anonymous :-( )

beware of Love Machine! (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791826)

Re:beware of Love Machine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32797314)

Congratulations for reminding us of a really stupid anime with a targeted audience aged between 5 to 13.

Social network linked to weapon system? Password cracking on pen and paper (note: not cracking protocol here)?

And the worst offense of all -- winning access to the system through computer simulated kung-fu sequences? WTF

Makes me ashame of Japan, especially when this stupid anime is compared to the ingenius "Make Love Not War" episode of southpark.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Make_Love,_Not_Warcraft [wikipedia.org]

Doomsday BS (5, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791828)

Gotta love this paragraph:

What will cyberwar look like? In a new book Richard Clarke, a former White House staffer in charge of counter-terrorism and cyber-security, envisages a catastrophic breakdown within 15 minutes. Computer bugs bring down military e-mail systems; oil refineries and pipelines explode; air-traffic-control systems collapse; freight and metro trains derail; financial data are scrambled; the electrical grid goes down in the eastern United States; orbiting satellites spin out of control. Society soon breaks down as food becomes scarce and money runs out. Worst of all, the identity of the attacker may remain a mystery.

If you enable above-mentioned critical infrastructure to be controlled over a public network (no matter how well secured), that's a design flaw. Any damage from that should go on the account of the boneheads that designed things that way, not on cybercriminals that find a way in & abuse it. It's okay to use network-connected equipment to help optimize / monitor whatever public utility. But the controls should always go through (on-site) humans and/or network-independent systems.

Such doomsday think is BS anyway: if you keep the above in mind, it couldn't happen as long as attacks are limited to network / cyberwar operations. In case of physical attacks: that's a whole different ballgame. And if systems are designed such that network break-ins alone can disrupt critical infrastructure, then you deserve whatever you get.

Re:Doomsday BS (4, Interesting)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791882)

Unfortunately, your supposition is incorrect.

They DO allow the controls to be accessible in that way. Even with the best designed systems, screwups occur and with disturbing frequency in this space.

I concur that they should be designed in the right way for this sort of stuff, by the way, but again, they're not and probably won't be for a while yet to come. FUD? Perhaps. Perhaps not. The problem is that there's a disturbing amount of truth within it that people keep dismissing here and elsewhere. It IS quite as bad as people have been claiming it is within this space- and unless you work with the segment, whether it be with the utilities or things like subways, you might not get that there REALLY is a problem that needs fixing and think it purely conjecture or outright lies to generate money for themselves.

It's not. With the grid in the shape it's in and with them carelessly exposing the control networks in manners that they can be manipulated via remote, there is a possibility, very real, very distinct, that someone could manage something that'd make the 2003 East Coast Blackout look like a Sunday picnic.

Re:Doomsday BS (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793718)

This cyberwar BS is totally overblown. How exactly can someone send a satellite spinning out of orbit with just a computer and an internet connection?

Re:Doomsday BS (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799936)

If you get access to the management interface, you can do damned near anything to it including deorbiting the thing. It's just that simple. The management interface is on a computer likely to be accessible via the Internet in some fashion, through a botnet compromised machine or similar. Given a bit of effort, I probably could do that much myself- and I'm little more than an old-school grey-hat.

It's a lot less BS than you'd think.

Re:Doomsday BS (1)

Simmeh (1320813) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791960)

FTFA
"...freight and metro trains derail"

Only if theres a buffer overflow....

Re:Doomsday BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32792100)

Yeah, someone needs to mod this up, and not Funny but Insightful.

You can prattle on all you like about cyberwar and the dangers of putting controls on the grid... most of which are securely VPN'd anyway... but when you start reading FUD about trains derailing, pipelines exploding, and ATC collapsing, you know someone's just pushing panic buttons to get an anti-network response from the readership.

Hell, if trains could be derailed by haxx0ring the intarwebs, 4chan would have built a fucking game out of it. Probably one involving masturbation somehow.

Sounds like Y2K predictions (again, groan) (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792302)

How much FUD can you pack into a paragraph? This piece

What will cyberwar look like?

pretty much presses all the buttons that the gullibly paranoid just love to swallow - after all, everyone loves a crisis.

The things is, all we can say about future threats is that they never turn out the way we've planned for them. Pearl harbour? who'd thought it? Sept 7? oops, didn't see that coming either. Fall of the USSR? dang! we never got to use all those nukes. So if / when there is what historians will look back on as cyberwar (or the first cyberwar), it almost certainly won't be the "war" that the government spent billions preparing for.

Whatever it does turn out to be, there are some blindingly obvious things that can and should be done in preparation. Things like making sure there is absolutely no physical or logical connections between crucial infrastructure and anybodies home computer. Ensuring that none of these mission critical systems, vehicles of war or systems of mass production / finance runs any commercially available software and keeping the knowledge of how they work, or even their existence away from the media, the public and the rest of the planet.

While these measures won't prevent this cyberwar, they might, just, mean that the effects will be reduced to the point that it just seems like a bad day at the office. But at least there's still be an office.

Re:Sounds like Y2K predictions (again, groan) (1)

DarkIye (875062) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792652)

The things is, all we can say about future threats is that they never turn out the way we've planned for them. Pearl harbour? who'd thought it? Sept 7? oops, didn't see that coming either. Fall of the USSR? dang! we never got to use all those nukes. So if / when there is what historians will look back on as cyberwar (or the first cyberwar), it almost certainly won't be the "war" that the government spent billions preparing for.

Cherry-picking. There are quite a number of threats that western governments have prepared for correctly, since it's a rare thing for intelligence to misreport the enemy's situation on the scale of 'Japan are not hostile'. The main point, however, is that Cyberwar, in the way this article describes it, is not going to happen, because it has little bearing on reality, in actuality or from the viewpoint of anyone but the Economist and anyone ignorant enough to believe them.

denial, even on Slashdot == we're boned (3, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792640)

For those of us in-the-know, it's painful to see people like you here on Slashdot. Due to NDA and various laws, we obviously can't go pointing out exactly how the USA truly is at risk.

Rest assured that this stuff is on the Internet, it's buggy as hell, it's misconfigured, and the passwords are as lame as you can imagine. We're already hacked into, at all levels, both government and private.

The main limitations for the attackers are a lack of obscure knowledge and their own preference for quietly stealing information. Why screw with a super-crufty undocumented railroad control system when you could be reading Hillary's email or picking up a copy of the F-35 radar software?

Re:denial, even on Slashdot == we're boned (2, Interesting)

Velex (120469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793460)

Rest assured that this stuff is on the Internet, it's buggy as hell, it's misconfigured, and the passwords are as lame as you can imagine. We're already hacked into, at all levels, both government and private.

The sad thing is that 4 years ago I might have thought you were being a fear-monger. However, after working in a call center that handles gobs of information every day just to see management thinking that setting everyone's passwords to "1234" is a good idea because 1.) it's easy and 2.) having to remember passwords is too technical for pregnant teenagers and 20-somethings I completely believe you.

If a baby-mamma is inconvenienced in any way, especially any way involving using her brain, the stars will move.

Fortunatey at least HIPAA was enough to knock some sense into those idiots.

But then again, after dealing with local hospitals, I've learned that when a CEO is on the warpath and wants to crucify someone, fuck HIPAA. HIPAA doesn't apply when you make shit per hour and a CEO wants to blame you for something and ruin you.

Re:denial, even on Slashdot == we're boned (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794520)

Mod parent up - cyberwarfare and TSA-like technobabble might be stupid, but targeted computer intrusions are very real. No, your IDS will not react. No, your antivirus is useless. No, you won't be able to detect a compromised computer by hand either. Assuming the kind of tech easily and freely available through metasploit, the only way I know of to detect a reflective DLL injection attack is through direct inspection of process memory. 0day exploits? Fuzzing and good workflow will find you those easily. If nothing else, your users are will themselves be the easiest vector for a foothold in your network. Basically: you think something's too complicated and outlandish for it to be technically feasible, excepting some sort of computer demigod? It probably isn't. Go read some exploit technique papers sometime, it's absolutely amazing how you can twist things to pull off attacks.
www.packetstormsecurity.org is the best intrusion whitepaper and tool archive on the net that I know of.

Re:Doomsday BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32792670)

That paragraph you quoted reminded me of the old Weekly World News gem...

Hackers can turn your home computer into a bomb! [fieldbrook.net] ...and now we know where they do their research!

Re:Doomsday BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32793278)

That guy is silly. Air traffic controllers wouldn't crash...they aren't connected to an external network. At least they didn't used to be.

Re:Doomsday BS (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793868)

It might be a design flaw, but it's also the inevitable consequence of a free market economy...

The companies that put their control systems on VPN over public internet got by a heck of a lot more cheaply then their competitors. And they haven't yet been attacked badly enough so it's been cost-effective so far. Meanwhile their more robust competitors go out of business.

Re:Doomsday BS (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 4 years ago | (#32799478)

Clarke is a glory-hogging neo-con weasel who has made a career of telling idiots in power exactly what they want to hear. He never saw a proposed restriction on public liberty that didn't give him a woody thinking about the resultant power grab, and has done everything in his power to gut the Bill of Rights in the name of 'security'.

If you read his 'Against All Enemies' and accepted it at face value you'd think he personally saved western civilization (audio book, long drive). If you really know the story behind any of the successes he claims credit for you quickly find that he's an ineffectual paper pusher who is far better at politics than security. The 'Millennium Bomber' for example, was supposedly caught by an inter-agency team researching and circumventing terrorist threats. In reality he was caught because a border guard at Port Angeles saw how nervous he was driving off the ferry (he was afraid the bump would set off his homemade explosives) and asked him to open the trunk. Seeing what looked like half-cooked meth, the agent arrested him on suspicion of drug smuggling. Only after it had been analyzed in the lab did they even know it was explosive.

That's typical of Clarke's success stories.

There do have to be consequences (4, Insightful)

simonbp (412489) | more than 4 years ago | (#32791998)

Before you start dismissing the article without reading it, they do have a very good point that cyberattacks by governments should have consequences for those for those governments. If Russia were to blow up the HQ of a company they didn't like, everybody would up in arms about, but if they hire a bunch of script kiddies to go in an wipe the company's server farm (effectively destroying the company), it probably wouldn't even draw a comment from the State Department. That's not a good precedent to set for the future...

Re:There do have to be consequences (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792498)

1) How do you know that the suspected attacker is the real attacker?

2) Why were they able to "wipe the copany's server farm"? Sounds like gross incompetence at the company. What happened to the backups?
(That said, backups often AREN'T sufficiently checked for readability...because of financial constraints. But that's still gross incompetence, only at the managerial level rather than at the operating level.)

Re:There do have to be consequences (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794532)

You forget that there's no need for the government to hire the "kiddies" directly, if they can whip them up into a nationalistic frenzy. And if they employ more skilled people, unless they fail epically, they're not going to be traceable back to their employing nation.

Re:There do have to be consequences (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795102)

Before you start dismissing the article without reading it, they do have a very good point that cyberattacks by governments should have consequences for those for those governments. If Russia were to blow up the HQ of a company they didn't like, everybody would up in arms about, but if they hire a bunch of script kiddies to go in an wipe the company's server farm (effectively destroying the company), it probably wouldn't even draw a comment from the State Department. That's not a good precedent to set for the future...

That sounds like good, common sense. However, the situation isn't that simple. As others noted, it's difficult to identify an attacker. That difficultly exists for different reasons.

First - simply identifying an attacker is difficult. A single attacker has multiple avenues. Their control path can jump through multiple nodes from various types of networks and various nationalities with different legal structures. Those can be simple proxies, compromised hosts, or botnets. Identifying a single attacker is difficult. Identifying who that attacker is or where they come from can be even more difficult.

Even when you've identified an attacker, figuring out whether they are an agent of any given Government is not simple. An amateur enthusiast has the same access to the training and tools that are on par if not the very same used by National agents. Whats more, an amateur can just as easily gain experience with little exposure and risk. Attacking a digital target takes little effort once one has amassed these. And as such, an attacker is just as likely (if not more likely) to be acting without State sponsorship. Even when you've got your attacker cornered, attaching them to a given Government is going to be difficult. Especially if that Government has taken any precautions to distance themselves from the attacker.

And the schools will make money off of it, too (2, Interesting)

langelgjm (860756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792144)

I've been seeing ads for a new degree program in "cybersecurity" at UMUC [umuc.edu] (second-career oriented portion of the University of Maryland). But I really wonder how effective such a degree could be if the person in the program isn't required to do some basic programming. From what I can tell, they aren't... they take "network essentials" and classes that include "penetration testing," but if the graduates of this kind of program are up against skilled hackers who are comfortable with bit-banging, I guess we're kind of screwed.

Re:And the schools will make money off of it, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32792600)

That is exactly the state of information security today. CISSP's and CEH's who don't even know what FTP is.

Re:And the schools will make money off of it, too (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794402)

Yes, if they only have the skills given to them by these types of educations they are incompetent. Knowledge of computer security requires full awareness of as many devils in the details as possible, deep technical skills from bare metal machine code through bit-level knowledge of all common networking protocols up to PHP and web systems and languages. It is hard, opportunistic, and there's noone there to hold your hand. It's not at all impossible, however - but there are very few real "experts", on either side. At least everyone seems to think there are very few experts; noone can really quantify their number, for ovbious reasons. And no, I don't count myself into that number. Yet.

read other articles the author has written (1)

retardpicnic (1762292) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792182)

He was popular for a while after 9/11, at the time he attempted to make it seem as though he was the lone force in the world that had been warning of the threat, and a ll of the powers that be ruffled his hair and told him to be on his way... and now weren't they all sorry they hadn'rt listened. As was the case before, is seeming to be the case now, an author with enough of a grasp of the siuation to make an intelligent commment is simply not enough, he chooses to muddle the waters with a blatantly personal agenda which will ensure that no one gives a shit whatever he says becomes any wisdom needs to be sifted through a mountain of self serving drivel

New meaning of cyber (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792206)

Given all the cyber-this and cyber-that, I think cyber has taken on a new meaning in the past several years:

Cyber (prefix) - signal to reader that he need not think critically about what follows.

It's a shortened version of the phrase using a computer, which has also had the same meaning in the context of patents.

in a word... (2, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792384)

America. America is driving the cyber war nonsense and the reason is clear. the natural progression of our regularly scheduled wars that operate on ~4 year cycle is boring the american public, who are tired of
sending their kids to the meatgrinder in some third world hell-desert. American voters are also tired of high taxes required to pay for these "necessary wars" that drive GDP up, but in the long term which most americans
and politicians dont concern themselves with, bankrupt a nation.

Drones made war more popular by removing the "little johnny isnt coming home" factor from war, but their most recent theatre also made them politically despicable as they became used casually to invade sovereign states to bomb the living shit out of army bases and cars with "suspected" terrorist leaders. This set the precedent for any country with an agenda to disregard national sovereignty because, well, america does too.

  cyberwar is an innocuous catchall thats managed by a US military entity (the airforce,) sufficiently complex as to avoid questioning by the general populous, and can easily be related to americans in terms of website hacks, email hacks, etc...to such an extent as to drive support and backing for cyberwars. Cyberwars, being ambiguous and beyond comprehension by joe six-pack also enjoy the luxury of being cheap, or expensive, depending on the size of the pocketbook and willingness of the nation to spend.

Cyberwar, like the war on terror, is designed as a continued investment by quite likely the very same government entrenched corporations that drove most any of the other wars we've had. it doesnt seek to protect anyone or solve anything, only create new consumer products the likes of the AR-15 and the hummer and line the pockets of the richest and most vile human beings who have ever come under the service of the people of the united states of america. And so long as we have potbellied senators from the carolinas barking cyberwar, there will always be a market for what we fear but do not understand.

Re:in a word... (1)

gtall (79522) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794060)

Cyber war got its provenance from Georgia and Estonia. The U.S. had nothing to do with it.

The taxes were never raised to cover the wars. They should have been. They will in the future.

Drones didn't make war more popular, look at the current poll numbers on the wars. They are an effective military option. The Taliban and Al Qaeda got their start well before the U.S. discovered drones. The Taliban and Al Qaeda continued the fine tradition of Islamo-Fascists of death to all who are not Muslim...and those who are but are not the right kind of Muslim.

Cyberwars are cheap compared to any of the U.S. Airforce's fighter/bomber programs. It is important that one develop sense of proportion.

The U.S. (well, the people, anyhow) didn't understand militant Islam before 9/11. Yet, it contributed to the economic slowdown after the .bust. All it will take is for the the Islamic nutjobs to get control of Pakistan's nukes to make the even the blind realize the threat...assuming that hasn't already happened given the alleged leadership in that alleged country.

Re:in a word... (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32794574)

The real question is, is the concept of "cyberwar" distinct from the concept of "computer espionage"? When I read about cyberwar as a concept, people always seem to use it about situations where the computer attack becomes a physical one, like the powergrid going down, or hospitals being thrown into chaos. There is a commonly cited predecent - the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_pipeline_sabotage [wikipedia.org] , if that actually happened.

I have no idea what the submission is about (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792482)

There is so much editorializing in the submission, and so little explanation, that I have no idea what the submission is about.

Stick to the facts in the submission. The rest belongs in comments.

Hey! The Internet is immutable, someone tell them! (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792676)

When attribution is a lost cause (and it is), international treaties are meaningless

So the summary's argument is based on the Internet as it is, and the nations forming these international treaties being powerless to change it.

If you honestly believe that, you deserve what you're going to get. Look at the histories of these nations and say with a straight face they cannot change the Internet. Don't say they wont; the very fact that other nations are involved gives them every reason to.

Not alarmist enough. (1)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32792842)

The REAL risk is, of course, SkyNet.

This is a job for... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32793032)

Why, Interpol, of course. Who else? Except the U.N., of course - that's where the world discusses it's problems.

Well, may a panel of world decent cyber-activists. Wikileaks. Civil Watchdogs. Ethical Hackers. ... maybe everyone. And an online voting system to load the vote on what's a cyber-attack and what's due protest, or whistleblowing. Put it under the U.N.'s wing, somehow, without curtailing independence.

It's a can-do. If the people want to.

More FUD Marketing... (1)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793286)

The wisc.edu is a very good school and nice apple and microsoft place, but not a leader in lockdown anything.

Talking policy with comparatively little or no heuristic experience in the field, does typically indicate a political/corporate agenda, but I could not locate any connection with any FUD/dogma bbbeast.

Anyway war and crime are two different levels of malevolence. War involves total (domestic/external) cultural participation, but crime is a more internal local and limited harm to citizens.

Acts/laws that make a crime an act of war is totalitarianism.

Draconian plutocracies will disenfranchise citizens with laws that make acts of cyber-crimes into acts of cyber-war. Hitler-Himmler, Chaney-Bush ... (great FUD marketeers) are examples of draconian plutocrats.

Bizarre articles (3, Interesting)

Anynomous Coward (841063) | more than 4 years ago | (#32793732)

I've been reading The Economist for a long time now, and, save for some known idiosyncrasies like plugging CO2 taxes/trading and kicking the Euro, found it to be quite neutral, interesting and well-written. I browse a lot during the week, and the articles always catch on to the buzz, while offering real additional insight. About the only thing I don't care for is too much focus on the politics of countries that used to be part of the former British Empire, but hey, give them nostalgic Brits a break.

The articles in the latest edition are really bizarre. They totally deviate from the quality I'm accustomed to, so much that I wondered what's going on and was about to write a LTTE.

Re:Bizarre articles (1)

u38cg (607297) | more than 4 years ago | (#32796854)

She's called Natasha Loder, and frankly she is a bit of a fool. Hard to tell for sure but I am pretty sure this has her fingerprints all over it.

Re:Bizarre articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32797570)

Errrm, countries that used to be part of the Empire still have strong ties to the UK. Which is why a UK-centric magazine tends to focus on them...

And now for an entirely different tack (1)

gone.fishing (213219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795242)

I'm not the brightest bulb on the block and that manifests it self as fear when I don't understand something. I am petrified of cancer and of some sort of sudden brain injury (my dad suffered many strokes before his death and my mom died of cancer). The author of the article probably has a couple of fears too. Couple that with his 'marching orders" which was probably something like "Write a doom and gloom article about the cyber-security risks to America's infrastructure for July 4th" and you get a superficial fluffy article that is intended to scare people who read The Economist.

The author probably read a lot of background matterial and understood about 20% of it (like when I tried to read about cancer in medical jounals). He was left concernd and still not understanding most of what he needed to know. Bear in mind he writes for a magazine called "The Economist" and not one called "Slashdot". On top of that there do seem to be a lot of authorities that sound terribly concerned about security (and sell products to protect you).

Anyway the editors got what they wanted and he got published.

Cyberwar 1.0 will be Microsoft only. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795446)

The forthcoming cyberwar will be isolated to the Microsoft ecosystem, use of MS Windows attcking malware is almost a prerequisite in a large scale cyber attack. *nix OSes are fundamentally more resistant in practice, automated/self-replicating attacks.

The New Fear (1)

gillbates (106458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32795732)

The problem every politician faces is that without some mind-gripping fear, for which the politician has *The Answer*, it is hard to unseat an incumbent. Cyber warfare is the New Fear.

Without the prospect of CYBER WARFARE, the critical infrastructure on which our political process takes place can remain controlled by private parties, some of whom are legitimately indifferent to the political process, even to the point where they are non-partisan, so long as the politician elect can be bought. This is clearly a problem for political parties, especially those in power, who have a vested interest in controlling political debate. Without control over the public square - that is, the means by which public debate happens - they have no reasonable assurance of controlling the debate itself. You see, there are *certain things* about which you aren't supposed to talk. The political debate has to be controlled in such a manner to keep people thinking about those ethereal fears which allow politicians to get elected.

And the problem with the Internet is that it can't be controlled by the party elect. Free debate happens - on any subject, mind you! And this is a real problem, especially if you need to control the thoughts of your subjects, er - citizens. Enter CYBER WARFARE: a threat, that if real, can be used as justification for grabbing "emergency" control of our public square should the natives become restless. Surely no one would argue against NATIONAL SECURITY. Hence, the effort to conflate the internet with being vital to national security, and to conflate cyber warfare with a legitimate threat to the national security of this nation. Once this lie is believed by the public at large, any *problematic* groups developing a political following can be neutralized in the name of protecting the nation.

This is not new, folks. There were power grabs under the notion of national security long before the Internet became the dominant means of public debate. During the civil rights era, the police broke up political protests and gatherings in the name of "law and order". This is no different - an attempt by the incumbents to retain their control over the political process. Every red-blooded American should reject this mindless fear-mongering, and those who mention "cyber warfare" should be upbraided as ignorant fools, preferably in as public a manner as possible, to "encourage the others".

Now this is not to say that there are real threats with vital systems connected to the internet, but this is a matter of engineering standards and ethics, not of actual national security. The distinction is important.

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