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US Prepares for Eventual Cyberwar

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the batten-down-the-hatches dept.

United States 223

The New York Times is reporting on preparations in the works by the US government to prep for a 'cyberwar'. Precautionary measures are being taken to guard against concerted attacks by politically-minded (or well-paid) hackers looking to cause havoc. Though they outline scenarios where mass damage is the desired outcome (such as remotely opening a dam's gates to flood cities), most expect such conflicts to be more subtle. Parts of the internet, for example, may be unreachable or unreliable for certain countries. Regardless, the article suggests we've already seen our first low-level cyberwar in Estonia: "The cyberattacks in Estonia were apparently sparked by tensions over the country's plan to remove Soviet-era war memorials. Estonian officials initially blamed Russia for the attacks, suggesting that its state-run computer networks blocked online access to banks and government offices. The Kremlin denied the accusations. And Estonian officials ultimately accepted the idea that perhaps this attack was the work of tech-savvy activists, or 'hactivists,' who have been mounting similar attacks against just about everyone for several years."

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223 comments

Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626927)

I mean who the FUCK would be stupid enough to have the controls for a Dam connected to the internet?

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626947)

Just about any government?

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19626973)

Looks like you were right; FTA:

"..through the industrial remote-control technologies known as Scada systems, for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. The technology allows remote monitoring and control of operations like manufacturing production lines and civil works projects like dams"

Words fail me.

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627037)

SCADA networks don't have to internetwork to the Internet. That's not to say some sites wouldn't be stupid enough to do that, but anyway.

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (5, Interesting)

garoo (203070) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627085)

Not all that unusual. I was visiting a water treatment/chlorination plant in the UK a few years ago (for complex reasons related to archaeology rather than anything particularly on-topic, so it is likely that we got the Cliff Notes version). They pointed to the computer that controls the water chlorination and said 'we control this via this modem right here'. Presumably there are all sorts of security controls around actually accessing via said modem, given that we are talking about a PC controlling the quality of the drinking water supplied to maybe 20,000 people.

This doesn't matter very much anyway. TFA seems to have confused 'you can connect to it remotely via some mechanism or another' and 'anyone connected to the internet can just ssh right in/DDOS it'. FUD.

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (1)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627581)

I will admit I'm not a tech-savvy person (by slashdot standards. Compared to normal people, simply knowing the difference between Windows, OS X, and Linux makes me a super-genius). Even so, for me, the idea of having Internet access to super-important structures online is a bad idea. Sure, it might be convenient for certain overweight employees to work from home (possibly using a dipping bird to hit the "y" key frequently), but obviously it makes it a bit too easy for extremist/mercenary/bored hackers to gain access.

Wouldn't it make sense to ONLY have access to these all important function on a seperate server with access only possible in person on site?

It's not just the Internet (4, Interesting)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627309)

***Isn't this blown out of proportion, again?***

Probably not out of proportion. The military has separate secure communications, but civil society doesn't. And many of our key networks aren't exactly robust. We've had incidents in the past of phone networks going down because of bad software upgrades to switches. And of power distribution networks going down for no very good reason and taking many hours to get back up. And satellites going out.

So what happens when a technically savvy bunch of folks with a point to make starts off by hijacking Microsoft Update to zombiate millions of PCs, uses other update services to brick all sorts of devices, then simultaneously goes after the DNS servers; North American power grid controls; and every satellite link they have previously found a vulnerability in? What if they can take down major parts of the cell phone network? Probably they can DOS the financial service network providers if they can't hack into them -- No functioning ATMs and likely no functioning banks and likely few functioning stores of any kind. And they reprogram a lot of the nation's traffic signals to turn all lights green permanently. They do the same for the railroads. And they turn off the natural gas distribution system -- in January. And they shut down the aquaduct pumping stations feeding Southern California. ... etc, etc, etc. And finally, they shut down as much of the phone system as they can get to.

A serious attack by a technically savvy attacker with significant resources and a good plan can very likely do most of those things and a great many more.

If an attacker can do even a quarter of that, it'd take any industrial country a week to get back up after a fashion, and months to really get things back under control. So, no, it's probably not blown out of proportion.

***I mean who the FUCK would be stupid enough to have the controls for a Dam connected to the internet?***

What is the cheapest and most cost effective way to control a remote power facility? And who says cyber attacks are limited to the Internet? If your dam is 300 miles away, you're going to need remote access -- at least for monitoring and quite likely for command and control. Seems to me like most, maybe all, of the technologies to do that -- internet, phone network, satellite, radio links, etc--are open to interception and attack. Even if you can't break into the control link, you likely can deny service in one way or another.

Re:It's not just the Internet (4, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627381)

If the attackers want to maximise chaos, they will leave the traffic signals functioning normally.

Remember the big eastern brown out? (1, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627429)

During that time, one of the nuclear reactors that shutdown was found to have numerous Windows based computers connected to the Internet. Apparently, the techs had put them in there and hooked up to make servicing easier. It happened then. It will happen again and again. Until companies decide to take back computing (laptops without USB or modem, ethernet that requires low-level authentication, etc., we will continue to see issues. In fact, if a company wanted to start up big against Dell, et. al. they could do the above and win big. There are LOADS of places that require secured non-windows systems.

Re:Remember the big eastern brown out? (2)

kevlarboots (1116749) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627509)

"During that time, one of the nuclear reactors that shutdown was found to have numerous Windows based computers connected to the Internet." If: you discover the real causes of the event: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Blackout_of _2003#Causes [wikipedia.org] . Then: you might not post such an uninformed and leading statement that can be so easily dismissed by those of us who work in the industry.

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (2, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627517)

Actually some very important things are reachable via the internet. Like millions of people's bank accounts, for instance. Heck, it's not the Internet, but highly classified satellites download data all the time through the open air. Relying on encryption is unavoidable.

Re:Isn't this blown out of proportion, again? (1)

Lord Apathy (584315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627709)

I mean who the FUCK would be stupid enough to have the controls for a Dam connected to the internet?

That is smartest comment that I've read all morning. Has it ever occurred to these dumb fucks that there is somethings that don't need to be wired up? My toaster, the urinal down at the truck stop, the FUCKING flood gates to a damn!

Obvious safeguard (4, Insightful)

maharg (182366) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626945)

don't connect the dam floodgate controller to the internet ?

Re:Obvious safeguard (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627077)

Welcome to the whitehouse.gov administration panel, please enter your 6 digit password below:
_ _ _ _ _ _

Access granted! Hello Mr. President,

would you like to...
[1] Raise taxes
[2] Open floodgates
[3] Administrate the US Army
[4] Launch nuclear warheads
[5] Play online poker

Re:Obvious safeguard (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627367)

Access granted! Hello Mr. President,
would you like to...
[1] Raise taxes
[2] Open floodgates
[3] Administrate the US Army
[4] Launch nuclear warheads
[5] Play online poker

[6]Global Thermonuclear War

Re:Obvious safeguard (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627447)

[5] Play online poker
[6]Global Thermonuclear War
Let's hope you don't accidentally hit "6" instead of "5"; which reminds me of the end of this video [youtube.com] .

Re:Obvious safeguard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627893)

1-2-3-4-5-6??

That's the kind of combination an idiot would put on his luggage!

Re:Obvious safeguard - not so safe (3, Interesting)

ancientt (569920) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627271)

Back in the late '90s I was infected by my first virus. I had never connected to the internet, I had just used the library and school computers. Somehow, I still managed to get a virus on my floppy diskette.

I don't think it is unlikely that there are people who hook their laptops up to their work network, and I suspect it is even more likely that people plug in a floppy/thumbdrive/cdrom from home. I don't doubt that it would be safer to stay disconnected from the Internet, but a handcrafted virus would be far more likely to avoid detection by most antivirus and probably accomplish just as much in a hacker war. It would have to be a targeted program, but that is really the point isn't it, that hackers could be targeting networks that are supposed to be secured. Of course, it probably doesn't help security that they probably assume their network is safe.

Re:Obvious safeguard - not so safe (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627605)

Back in the late '90s I was infected by my first virus. I had never connected to the internet, I had just used the library and school computers. Somehow, I still managed to get a virus on my floppy diskette.
Sheesh, I forget so easily, but now that you mention it... Viruses of that nature had been around since the late-80s.

It sounds laughable now, but they were actually a real problem on the likes of the Amiga and Atari ST during the early 90s. No network required; the Amiga ones resided on the floppy boot-sector and could survive a warm reset.

Re:Obvious safeguard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627297)

a silly little dam ?

How about real stuff, like revoking all XP and Vista keys ? (not just the U.S. ones please)

Re:Obvious safeguard (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627455)

1. I'm certain MS has backups for that very reason.
2. If MS is right about the number of pirated copies, a fair amount of home users won't even bat an eye, AIM chatrooms will go silent, a few test servers will go off for a while, and a few highschool computer classes will be out for a day or two.
2. Before you try to shoot down that last point, Win2k is still filling a lot of the business slots due to its resource efficiency (and rightly so).

There are much more destructive attacks, like hijacking Windows Update and then DDOSing the DNS servers accross the US, essentially shutting down a section of the Internet for nearly a day. (I'm pretty sure someone mentioned that, but it is a good idea.)

Tickle Me Elmos transformed into killing machines (2, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626951)

Now that would have made a good headline. It's directly from the article:

microchip-controlled Tickle Me Elmos will be transformed into unstoppable killing machines

(taken slightly out of context)

Newspaper ad (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626969)

As the government is getting ready for the upcoming cyberwar, the following ad was noticed in a local newspaper:

We're looking for a young man named John Connor, to lead our efforts in the war against the machines. We offer $1000 to anyone who has any substancial information in discovering his location. If you can help, please dial 1-800-ILL-BE-BACK.

    - The Government (it's not Terminator this time, I swear)

Re:Newspaper ad (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627027)

The next day another ad was printed:

This is The Government. We're warning you that Terminator seems to be posting newspaper ads looking for John Cohnor and presenting himself as The Government. Do NOT call him. The real Government would never post ads in a newspaper in a fashion like that.

Hmm, wait a second. Bob, stop typing, let me call the general. Hello, General? I just realized, we can't type in a newspaper ad, that we'd never post in a newspaper ad, we'd look like damn morons. Uhuh. Uhuh.. Wait.. BOB I told you to STOP TYPING THAT!

Re:Newspaper ad (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627155)

How does it feel to reply to your own post?

Re:Newspaper ad (4, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627189)

How does it feel to reply to your own post?

Makes me feel Slashdot had an edit post button, so I wouldn't have to ammend myself in an entire new post.

Re:Newspaper ad (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627545)

Of course, editing would kill the whole karma system unless there were something like a 'see original post' link on edited posts.

Re:Newspaper ad (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627587)

Of course, editing would kill the whole karma system unless there were something like a 'see original post' link on edited posts.

It wouldn't kill anything. First there could always be the "see previous revision" buttons, and second the system could only accept edits that ammend to the original (not replacing it) and accept, say 7-8% changes on the original (for the typos).

It could also display the edits in a different color, thus putting it in plain sight what was edited.

Re:Newspaper ad (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627571)

- The Government (it's not Terminator this time, I swear)


Please show respect to the person actualy issuing the order.

The correct signature should read:
- Governor Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger

Hacktivists!? (0, Flamebait)

flyneye (84093) | more than 6 years ago | (#19626977)

Hactivists like these should be monitored by their parents more closely.
Folks,if you catch your kid engaging in "hactivism" or using words like "politically correct" you should suspend their computer privileges,beat their ass beet red and send them to bed early.
If it should ever turn out an adult is engaging in this childish stupidity,countries without rights similar to ours should just stack them up and shoot them so only one bullet is wasted.Here we just send them to prison to be bitches for the "aryan brotherhood",cause wimpy lil computer geeks don't belong in prison with real physical hoodlums.

             

Re:Hacktivists!? (1, Insightful)

Joebert (946227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627421)

People don't beat their kids for the better of the child, they beat their kids because they themselves are incapable of acting in a socially acceptable manor & beating the children allows the parent to vent the fustrations involved with being a failure in society as well as an incapable parent.

Don't beat your kids, better yourself & lead by example.
If the children don't follow your example, abandon them.

Re:Hacktivists!? (2, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627591)

Folks,if you catch your kid engaging in "hactivism" or using words like "politically correct"
Flamebait? Sure. But badly-constructed flamebait- the only people who use the expression "politically correct" are those attacking the concept.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "political correctness" only ever really existed as a convenient strawman caricature, useful for smearing anything remotely smacking of "liberal" or left wing views.

www.hooverdamn.com (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627015)

If they connected the damn open controls to the Internet then they're idiots who should be immediately sacked.

On the other hand, it's typical of 'Cyber security' firms to pretend private networks an the internet are one and the same network. As though you can hack into hooverdamn.com and open the flood gate from the MS IIS security hole....

Re:www.hooverdamn.com (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627445)

You are right, you can't just goto hooverdamn.com and command the system, however if you telnet into 216.187.103.169 on port 585 at exactly 4:45am on a Sunday morning and transmit the entire text of the US constitution replacing every reference to the word "State" with "Chicken Burgers" you will be given a key which can be used once exactly 14 seconds later from a specific IP address to gain control of the system.

Please note that if you mistype the phrase or time it wrong you and your family will never be seen again.

The Need for an Enemy (3, Insightful)

segedunum (883035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627073)

Well, everyone needs a credible enemy to keep themselves in a job. I mean, what would all those government agencies do with their time? The whole thing is just playing peoples worst fears, and the scenarios they've got there are straight out of Die Hard......or that film Sandra Bullock was in, and of course the all have no basis in reality.

Bring back the Cold War, that's what I say, and it looks as though they are. This whole terrorism thing just isn't working out ;-).

Re:The Need for an Enemy (2, Informative)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627099)

This whole terrorism thing just isn't working out
Well even the dummies are starting to put 2 and 2 together now over the whole 'terrorist global domination' charade and 'Cyber terrorists' are a ready made replacement in terms of fear mongering. Another vague, unknown threat that could be anywhere and somehow capable of causing immense destruction and loss of life at any given moment.

Re:The Need for an Enemy (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627333)

Bring back the Cold War, that's what I say, and it looks as though they are. This whole terrorism thing just isn't working out ;-).

Maybe it's not working out, but Cold War was even worse. It was so hopelessly outdated, that they tried rebranding it "Cool War", "Hot War" and what not, but it just wouldn't catch on.

Cyberwar and war on terror is where it's at. And war on child abuser. Who doesn't agree? You child abusers, you.

Cool War by Frederik Pohl (1)

fritsd (924429) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627845)

Nonono, "The Cool War" was that SF book by Frederik Pohl which seems to become more realistic year by year. In fact, it's even on-topic!

THE FBI IS GUILTY (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627083)

Why won't let allow me to have my 1,000,000 user botnet? I don't see them coming to my house to take my guns. Instead they run around closing botnets down so we cannot defend the country against being hacked by Chinese.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Memes! (3, Funny)

ettlz (639203) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627103)

In 2007, cyberwar was beginning.

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Memes! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627147)

What happen?
Somebody set us up teh hax!

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Memes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627897)

IN A.D. 2007, CYBERWAR WAS BEGINNING.
John Doe: What happen ?
Jane: Somebody serve up us the h4x.
Jane: We get lawsuit.
John Doe: What !
Jane: Main screen turn on.
John Doe: It's you !!
MAFIAA: How are you gentlemen !!
MAFIAA: All your boxen are belong to us.
MAFIAA: You are on the way to court.
John Doe: What you say !!
MAFIAA: You have no chance to survive make your time.
MAFIAA: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
Jane: John Doe !!
John Doe: Take off every 'Zig' !!
John Doe: You know what you doing.
John Doe: Move 'Zig'.
John Doe: For great lulz.

Don't want to be attacked? It's SO simple really. (1, Flamebait)

hoyeru (1116923) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627113)

Don't interfere in other countries' business and they won't have any reasons to attack you.

Mind yo businez (3, Insightful)

ancientt (569920) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627325)

That's right, because we all know that bullies only beat up other bullies. </sarcasm>>

I love that people assume that the US is a target because of it's actions. I wonder if these are the same people that assume that Microsoft gets hacked because it is an 'evil' company. Let me say it plainly: The US is a target because the US has a lot of money and influence. Microsoft is a target because they have a large number of users. There may be thousands of other reasons, but that is the real reason there is such a disparity in attacks against the two. I am not saying that MS shouldn't be a moral business or that the US shouldn't improve it's interactions in the world, I'm just saying that doing either one will not make a significant difference in the number of attacks.

Both have a need to do the same thing too, actually. They need to improve security and do it in such a way that it doesn't harm their base.

Re:Mind yo businez (1)

ChameleonDave (1041178) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627451)

That's a bit of a weird straw-man you've set up there. Who thinks that Microsoft gets hacked (I presume you are referring to viruses and malware on Windows systems) because it's evil? The big debate is over whether Windows users are at risk because of their numbers (as you say) or because Windows security is fundamentally flawed. The fact that MS is evil is a separate issue.

You try to make some sort of weak analogy between this and hostility to the US. Your unexplained "money and influence" motivation is presumably a variation on the childish "they're just jealous of us" argument that some like to bring up when they want to deny the legitimacy of people's grievances.

Re:Mind yo businez (1)

Nullav (1053766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627883)

Jealousy? War and malware can be profitable. (Although, 'cyber warfare' seems like pointless, expensive ePeen flexing.)

Re:Don't want to be attacked? It's SO simple reall (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627337)

And what if other country business is to take all your resources?

Re:Don't want to be attacked? It's SO simple reall (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627347)

***Don't interfere in other countries' business and they won't have any reasons to attack you.***

Tain't entirely true. Ask the Poles.

Nonethelss, it'd be a very good start. Especially for people who have proved, on the whole, to be rather inept at meddling.

Re:Don't want to be attacked? It's SO simple reall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627443)

Let's just stop all that gobal trade policy nonsense and focus on our bellybuttons. That way, we don't have any reason not have mutual respect between any country, a group of revolutionaries, The Glorious Fourth Reich or The Federation of True Believers. By the way, let's get rid of that pesky UN, Geneva Conventions and all respect of individuality. That way, the world economy truly shines and the human race solves trivially any energy problems, the problems of overpopulation and any refugee problems associated with a natural catastrophe of a multinational scale. Who is next one to call "convert or die?"
Funny it is, is it not?

always a war (5, Insightful)

had3z (1064548) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627121)

Why is it that america is always preparing for a war? a war on 'terrer', a cyberwar, a war on drugs, a war on immigrants, a war on pirates, a war on guns. When is the last time america made peace?
I guess big budgets need big reasons

Re:always a war (1)

Hrothgar The Great (36761) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627205)

This really isn't anything like those other "wars" though in that there will probably be nothing actively done in this case. It's a popular thing right now in the corporate world right now as well as the government - worst case scenario disaster planning. What you do is you call a meeting, and you pull in members from your various technical teams, and then you ask a roomful of developers and IT staff what their plan is in case - oh, I don't know, there's a global pandemic next week, or a terrorist blows up half of the company's infrastructure, or HACKTIVISTS attack the network.

I work for a University IT department. We've done the first two I mentioned already. Thank god we have a separate network security department so I won't (probably) have to hear about the fucking hactivists any time in the near future.

Re:always a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627827)

This really isn't anything like those other "wars" though in that there will probably be nothing actively done in this case.

I'd say that's really a matter of opinion.

Re:always a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627277)

Hold on there, cowboy! The "war on immigrants" is just a "policing action" .. much like Korea. and it's only against illegal immigrants.

Re:always a war (4, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627287)

Why is it that america is always preparing for a war? a war on 'terrer', a cyberwar, a war on drugs, a war on immigrants, a war on pirates, a war on guns. When is the last time america made peace?

Amen. Let's declare war on war!

Re:always a war (0)

EricJ2190 (1016652) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627289)

>> a war on 'terrer'

What about the war on grammar?

Re:always a war (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627321)

>> a war on 'terrer'

What about the war on grammar?


How about war on grammar nazies, and nazies in general (I'm sure Steven Spielberg would even make a movie about it).

And that's a typo, not a grammatical error.

Re:always a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627377)

It's not a typo. It's deliberate, much like nukular. Geez...

Re:always a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627629)

Hehe so you did have to spell it out, that it was a Bush reference.

I think we should have a war on idiots, and it should start right here at slashdot! >:]

Re:always a war (1)

ethicalBob (1023525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627683)

>> >> a war on 'terrer'

>> What about the war on grammar?

I think what he means is quite clear - and I agree... We need discussion about the war on cute little dogs... The Jack Russells are getting a really bad name in the war on terriers!

Ia m not a director but (1)

metamorfoza (995978) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627857)

>> What about the war on grammar? >>How about war on grammar nazies, and nazies in general (I'm sure Steven Spielberg would even make a movie about it). How about making a movie with one fighting others - Saving Private Spellchecker, or something.

Re:always a war (1)

KillerBob (217953) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627889)

I think the quotation marks around 'terrer' made it clear he knew that the word is actually spelled 'terror' and was trying to poke fun at an otherwise ridiculous situation.

Re:always a war (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627453)

Because they're scared someone's going to take them over, or down. At least those in power are, and they're trying to stay in power by making it sound like the end of the world so that everyone else will help them stay in power.

Re:always a war (1)

ethicalBob (1023525) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627643)

Because WAR=MONEY

And because when a country is in fear, it is much easier to control its populace. If you "fear" an external aggressor, you will "trust" your own government more, give it more slack, and be a good little sheep.

Not saying that wars aren't sometimes an inevitability, but we in the US do seem to thrive on them...

Re:always a war (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627731)

Why is it that america is always preparing for a war?
Because it's a neat way to get around the freedoms and protections afforded to the populace.

People understand that in war it's necessary to restrict what people may normally do, in order to "win". Theoretically, once the war is over, the old freedoms can be restored.
In practice, there are so many rules, laws and protections in place that it's impossible for a government to obey them all and still enact all the dodgy deals that they, and their friends want done. The only way to do that is to remove (temporarily, of course - until the next "war") these liberties so the govt. can get on with defeating the bad guys, whoever they may be.

As a shortcut, it's very easy to declare war, especially if the enemy is some abstract, disembodied enemy like "drugs". No-one can question your motives without appearing to be disloyal. Likewise, with an abstract enemy there's no clear way to tell when the war is won (or lost!). Consequently the guy in charge can stand up at any time and claim a victory - who's to say they're wrong?

Flooding cities (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627131)

If the dams and Big Red Buttons are connected to the Internet in the US, I'd start thinking about moving elsewhere...
Move to Nigeria and start my own "419 Scam" operation...

yo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627311)

US preparing for cyberwar? When they can't even secure their regular boxes?

Disaster contingency planning (2, Funny)

zmollusc (763634) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627361)

Can we agree on a flag to wave so that, once the 3vi1 h4xx0rs have destroyed all the intarnets, we can signal to others in visual range 'willing to trade pr0n dvdroms via sneakernet'? Maybe any suitably encrusted piece of fabric?

Humans (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627365)

We started as tribes, we warred between villages. We became countries, we warred over boarders. We took our war into space - complete nothingness, and yet we fought over it. We then created a new world that exists only as information coursing through wire and fibre, and yet we brought war to it. What a sad and tedious inevitability.

Re:Humans (2, Interesting)

ardor (673957) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627475)

The only way to prevent war is to prevent the existence of more than one opinion.
So, a hive mind would end the wars.
But would this be really better?

Born to Lose (4, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627369)

Every US "Cybersecurity Czar" [wikipedia.org] has quit in disgust. The Homeland Security agency can't even find someone to run the office [cybertelecom.org] , because it's a total joke.

Meanwhile, the US has already been under siege by China in a full-blown cyberwar [google.com] for several years.

It's cheap to attack the US tech infrastructure, and expensive to defend against it. That's what asymmetric warfare [wikipedia.org] , like terrorism, is all about. So 6 years into Bush's Terror War, and the government is still preparing to get started, while our enemies just surge around us.

Stupid-wordism (2, Interesting)

SoapBox17 (1020345) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627385)

"Hactivist" is a perfectly cromulent word, right? No, not really. I really despise this weird need everyone has to create new words. He already have perfectly good words, like "hacker", "activist" and "loser kids who want to feel powerful." Why anyone felt the need to create another buzz word is beyond me. This one is going right on the top of my list [slashdot.org] .

Re:Stupid-wordism (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627663)

Of course, the term hactivist should really be used to describe people like RMS who use their hacking ability for social change in a constructive way. The article is really talking about cracktivists.

preparing to START a cyberwar? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627407)

OK, there's defensive preparations and offensive preparations. I think it would be nice to know exactly how these guys are intending to fight (offence is the best form of defence?) such a war, before we all become collateral damage?

Re:preparing to START a cyberwar? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627551)

Why, if Tron gives us any clue, they're getting the're uping cyberbike skills. I mean, the glowing clothing alone has to be expensive; these people need funding.

Slight factual error in summary (2, Informative)

ja (14684) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627415)

The summary says that Estonia wanted to "remove Soviet monuments", which is an excaggeration. The monument in question was moved to a less prominent place, which is kind of understandable since the Soviet era of Estonia isn't regarded much higher than, say the Nazi occupation of places like Denmark or The Netherlands ...

The important thing to remember here is that the monument is still visible for those who wish to pay their respect to their ancestors. The monument is not, and never was, removed.

Re:Slight factual error in summary (1)

Max_W (812974) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627539)

They had never said before that it will be installed in a new place. Only after the mass civil conflict they hastily changed their mind. It is true. First they told of re installment on BBC after the night when the whole Tallinn center was destroyed. In fact the whole story was a provocation. Estonia now is a defunct irresponsible state, which can not maintain normal relations with its neighbors. Surviving on prepaid theatrical hysterics. 60000 Baltic Red Riflemen installed the communism in Russia in the first place http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latvian_Riflemen [wikipedia.org] . Hundreds of thousands of Russian , Ukrainian, Chechen, Kazakh, etc. peasants were murdered. They were led by the Polish citizen Felix Dzerzhinskiy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felix_Dzerzhinskiy [wikipedia.org] , the father of KGB. And after installing this "s*%t" in our country, they yet have the impudence of blaming Russians of their problems.

Re:Slight factual error in summary (1)

ja (14684) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627751)

Max, thankyou for your report, as seen from Ukraina. Mine was as seen from Stockholm, which is also a distance away from the place of the actual events.

The Beeb didn't get this on their radar before long after "Johnny come Lately" woke up ... A fair and honest report from a russian inhabitant of Tallinn would be most welcome. Anyone?

Re:Slight factual error in summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627775)

The comment by Max W (812974) tells us as much truth as the statements by Russian authorities that they are not responsible for the death of Litvinenko or that Moscow houses were exploded by Chechnian guerillas. The comment by Max W is in the best style by Goebbels: do not lie a little, the lie should be overhelming.

Personal anecdotes of a cyberwarfare researcher (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627465)

As an academic, I've studied the effects of cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism since the mid-nineties. I'm fortunate to have had my research partially funded by Israeli academic institutions who, in connection to the IDF, have an obvious interest in such studies.
During my research I've been given the "attack" statistics of Israeli .gov.il servers, and even some (not highly) classified statistics of intrusion attempts from inside-users in the Knesset's own networks. Suffice to say, no one is really protected against highly skilled inside jobs, but the gov.ils' web-facing HTTP servers have yet to be hacked.
I have some anecdotes from my study in my (personal) website [ouch.co.il] .


Posted anonymously because, even though I don't mention any(!) secret details, I still don't want this to be at the top of the search results when people google for my name...

PLAN FOR ACTION (4, Funny)

allanc (25681) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627503)

Okay, this is serious, and the US could be in serious danger. Here's my plan for action to make sure we can come through a potential cyber-war victorious:

1. "Security through Conformity": Standardize on exactly one platform. Make sure everyone in government is using it. That way, if we discover a gaping security hole in that platform, we only have to patch one type of system. Homogeneity is the key.
2. We need to put our trust in professionals. That one platform should definitely be Microsoft Windows. Sure, having people from all over the world looking for bugs might be quicker and more effective, but that also means that people from all over the world have the potential to find a security hole, but we have no clear target to blame for that security hole. And don't forget that backdoor that was almost slipped into Linux (though, fortunately, caught before it got into source control because of all of the people able to look at it)! We wouldn't have to worry about that with Microsoft Windows
3. Don't leave computer decisions in the hands of long-haired computer geeks who spend all day working with technology. They tend to have decidedly leftist--if not communist!--leanings. All IT decisions for the US government should be made by the people best qualified to make them: Career bureaucrats.

Aaaagh! It's not just Dilbert! It's you too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627597)

For years I've been convinced that "Scott Adams" has been spying on me personally. Your post makes it clear that you're doing it too! You know where I work and who I work with. Will I never escape!?

Re:PLAN FOR ACTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19627669)

If I was logged in and had mod points, I would certainly mod you as flamebait or funny.
I hope that you were at least trying to be funny, wern't you?

Seriously, there are lots of examples in the biological world where 'monocultures are the first to die in the event of a catastophy'. A further example would be the failure of the Cultural Revolution in China under Mao.
A virus let loose in a Windows only monoculture would be just what the 'Enemies of the State' want. Write once, deploy everywhere, kill everything(in a computer and physical sense). Result, Profit (or more likely economic disaster and then conversion to some other ideology by the masses as their only perceived hope of getting out of the abject poverty such an event would incur.

Diverstity is the spice of life.

Re:PLAN FOR ACTION (1)

allanc (25681) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627901)

Yes, I was going for funny. :-P

(See, the joke is that the above is what we're basically doing now)

Re:PLAN FOR ACTION (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627921)

4. Enact a bill that hampers research on encryption, setting the country behind the rest of the world. Maybe call it Digital Millennium Copyrights act.

Hacktivist is not a word you journidiot (1)

jgercken (314042) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627561)

I hate it when journalists and general outsiders feel they have the authority to coin cutsie words for areas of research they know absolutely nothing about.

Cyber Cyber Cyber (3, Funny)

gumpish (682245) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627575)

Can't they call it "Digital Warfare" or "Internet Warfare"?

"Cyber" is so 1990's... anything that inserts it into the language more often is a nuisance. Can you imagine if it gradually became a synonym for "good"?

Dude, that pizza was totally cyber!

Ugh...

There really is a solution of uniqueness.... (1, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627695)

you know how linux doesn't suffer the windows viruses or the BSD system doesn't suffer linux holes?

Well its all about uniqueness. If ever computer ran a different operating system with different....whatever protocals..

Of course this is not realistic, or is it? Lets say the linux open source system could be compiled with something like an encription code that alters the system enough to make it unique. Any applications to run on that particular system would as well need to be compiled with the same code, etc, and so on... making each system unique enough that the difficulty of infecting or breaking into a system is greatly increased.

Maybe I should patent the idea... oh but wait... Its not novel....though my finger print may be unique, my eye retina unique, everyone has their own. Just look at itunes encripting your personal data to track piracy...

SECURE THE PROTOCOLS!!! (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627771)

Just fix the darn protocols, dammit. It's been a year [washingtonpost.com] since Blue Security was taken down by PharmaMaster and NOBODY has done ANYTHING to prevent any subsequent DNS amplification attacks [securiteam.com] from happening.

If ISPs at least blocked forged-ip packets from exiting them, then THAT would be a nice start.

"...knock them out in the first round" (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627783)

There's no way in hell the US is equipped* to deal with 'cyberwar', let alone the government. What do they plan to do to "knock them out in the first round"?; make sure that Norton is running and that they have the latest service packs installed? Most people have no idea what they are up against with computer security. Unless they can find it at Walmart, it doesn't exist. A lot like to pass the buck too: "Why didn't microsoft protect me from this?" "Why can my ISP let this happen"?, "Do I really have to do all that?", "This is too hard". These same people are making decisions to put your personal information on laptops and dam controls on the internet. I suppose this is just natural selection in a digital form however.

[*]
    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/20/125 9219&from=rss [slashdot.org]
    http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/ 13/2124228 [slashdot.org]
    http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/06/22/021 239 [slashdot.org]

Economic war? (1)

MarkWatson (189759) | more than 6 years ago | (#19627885)

Sorry in advance if I am going a little off topic here, but I think that economic wars will define the future.

In the best of future worlds, governments will compete with each other for skilled workers and investment based on how well they can provide: a low tax base, control of local violence, educational infrastructure, effective markets and trading partners, etc.

The problem that I see for the USA (my country), the UK, and a few others is that they spend so much on "defense" that they will not be able to compete economically and socially. Some people I know are very concerned about the USA using nuclear weapons in the Middle East. While I admit that there is a (hopefully very tiny) chance of this, I would think that any country starting a nuclear war in today's economically interlocked world would become a pariah state, and basically be toast as the rest of the world routes around them. If you are going to run a military based empire as a business, should it not be profitable? The problem is that the possibility of long term profitability of empires is suspect. Empires want to avoid support of the UN, world court, etc., but countries trying to compete economically are likely to view these international organizations as cost saving devices.

Call me an optimist, but I don't think that it is too late for the USA and UK to redirect the very high cost of empire to more productive use like education, local security, etc.
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