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The One Sided Cyber War 215

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the great-firewall-of-america dept.
Curseyoukhan writes with a skeptical perspective on the U.S. Cyberwar posturing. From the article: "The first shot was probably the release of Stuxnet sometime during or before 2009. Even though no one has officially claimed responsibility everyone knows who was behind it. Stuxnet hit with a bang and did a whole lot of damage to Iran's uranium-enrichment capabilities. We followed up Stuxnet with Flame — the Ebola virus of spyware. What did the Iranians fire back with? A series of massive, on-going and ineffective DDoS attacks on American banks. This is a disproportionate response but not in the way military experts usually mean that phrase. It's the equivalent of someone stealing your car and you throwing an ever-increasing number of eggs at his house in response. It's fascinating that Iran continues to do nothing more despite the fact that U.S. critical infrastructure currently has the defensive posture of a dog waiting for a belly rub. Keep that in mind the next time you hear that a 'cyber Pearl Harbor' is imminent."
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The One Sided Cyber War

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  • not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:05PM (#42670735) Journal

    It's fascinating that Iran continues to do nothing more despite the fact that U.S. critical infrastructure currently has the defensive posture of a dog waiting for a belly rub.

    It's not surprising actually.....because attacking that infrastructure is not as easy as it sounds. It's not like any script-kiddie can pick up the stuxnet script and modify it to attack their local cell-phone tower.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:06PM (#42670749) Homepage

    In the real Pearl Harbor, people died. Unless and until the people talking about "cyberwar" demonstrate that they're defending us against the same kind of lethal threats, there isn't a legitimate comparison.

    At worst, there may be property damage. But the simple fact is that the threats presented by enemies of the United States today are not even close to being the same level of threat presented by the Germans and Japanese and Russians of the past, where if we screwed up it was quite possible that the United States wouldn't exist anymore.

    So why do they continue to invoke this stuff? To scare people into putting their organization on the US DoD gravy train.

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:14PM (#42670839)

    So why do they continue to invoke this stuff? To scare people into putting their organization on the US DoD gravy train.

    Or maybe because the professianls who do this for a living know something you don't. Imagine for a second that someone shuts down our power grid, something that is easy to do and has been demonstrated in Project Aurora. Without power, the internet is down. Without the internet, the economy grinds to a halt. No ships coming into port, no planes flying, no gasoline being delivered, no power in hospitals, no 911 calls, no critical infratructure working at all. This is the cyber 9/11 people like us (I work in the intelligence community) are worrying about.

  • Re:not really (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:14PM (#42670855) Journal

    And...

    If Iran did too good of a job in a counter attack, do you think the US would keep the confrontation just "cyber", or would it escalate? That's another of their considerations.

  • Re:I have a theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:20PM (#42670907)
    Nope, that's not how cyber attacks work, do you think there was an armada of servers powering stuxnet? No... it was a self-contained program that ran on Iran's resources.
  • by Zeromous (668365) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:29PM (#42671065) Homepage

    Oh not you again! Does your fallacious "intelligence" position grant you highlevel access to sources such as the telegraph and wall street journal?

    Look, if you've hooked up your command/control infrastructure to the Internet, all the DHS in the world is not going to save you. Stuxnet like viruses? Sure. Maybe. Unpreventable, by anything beyond quality engaged PHYSICAL security.

    As for impact, if you recall, 10 years ago, power was down for up to 3 days across the NE. This was caused by something far less insidious and delibrate than a cyber attack. It's impact beyond the first grid affected was also completely mitigable and took several MANUAL command/control failures to become as pervasive as it did.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_blackout_of_2003 [wikipedia.org]

  • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:35PM (#42671153)
    If electricity in a city went out for a week there would be riots and looting. If gas refining stopped, your car wouldn't drive and you couldn't work.
  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:40PM (#42671235)

    That's all made up scaremongering to gather $$ and enforce central authority. I work on the "other side" no, not the black hat side, I mean the infrastructure provider side. Seriously claiming that our main site backup generator which doesn't have a networked SCADA interface will magically fail? And all our POPs which have gens that barely have electronic engine computers on the diesels will be magically reprogrammed? My cousin maintains large fixed diesel gens for hospitals, you're going to reprogram his ratchet set so he can't turn bolts? Without the internet no planes fly? LOL

    A grid hit would look EXACTLY like the great NYC power outage about a decade ago. In fact, seeing as no newsies really looked into it to the depth necessary, it could very well have been an external hit to send a message.

    A REAL hit wouldn't look like Jericho or a survivalist fanfic, it would look like an economic hit. If every centrifugal pump VFD at the local plant instantly reversed so they get to buy new ones, that doesn't mean we're going back to worldwide feudalism, it merely means bankruptcy for one plant. Actually it would look a heck of a lot like a major aerospace jetliner manufacturer having to ground an entire worldwide fleet leading to all kinds of economic effects.

  • by FrankSchwab (675585) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:48PM (#42671335) Journal

    Really? Someone shuts down the power grid and the entire world grinds to a halt? Maybe we should train someone who knows how to, well, turn the power grid back on?

    I understand that the grid is a complex legacy systerm that isn't well understood. It's not clear, for example, how to cold-start the nationwide power grid if some catastrophe shut it all down, nor is it clear how long it would take to do so. But assuming that the economy comes to a catastrophic halt is simply fear-mongering. Every few years, winter storms shut down the Eastern seaboard for days with no lasting effects. The World Trade Center attacks shut down most of the financial industry for a week, and had severe repercussions on it for weeks thereafter; but we survived. The Sept 11, 2001 attacks shut down air traffic completely for a week - and yet, the world didn't stop.

    Taking down the electrical grid would be more comprehensively catastrophic than the Sept 11 attacks, but it would still be no more than a minor blip on the Human History chart. A week later, it would be back up and running and those cunningly flexible and adaptable human beings would still be infesting this planet.

    Please, for the sake of the United States and the world, get out of government service and take your paranoia with you.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @01:58PM (#42671463)

    Or maybe because the professianls who do this for a living know something you don't.

    Secret evidence is indistinguishable from fabricated evidence. Maybe the professionals who do this for a living are a bunch of frauds collecting fat paychecks for nothing. I have as much proof of my assertion as you have of yours.

  • Re:I have a theory (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZeroPly (881915) on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @02:25PM (#42671809)
    Any nation-state, even a tiny African country, has enough resources to mount a massive attack. A bigger concern for the Libyans or Iranians is that the attack is too effective. The American public is usually lethargic about foreign policy, but when they get provoked into saying "do something, I don't fucking care what", that's when the US government gets to strap your ass to a waterboard without any consequences, or drop a Hellfire on you, your 4 wives, and your dog. And other countries realize that. They saw what happened with 9/11, and don't want a repeat.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @04:21PM (#42673051)

    ...but Iran has had the dick of the west up their ass since 1953. Who has Iran attacked?

    You call them "murderous assholes," yet the US is responsible for FAR more murder.

    IOW: fuck off you cowardly apologist for the empire.

  • Re:I have a theory (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 23, 2013 @04:28PM (#42673129)

    And other countries realize that. They saw what happened with 9/11, and don't want a repeat.

    You mean attacking Iraq for absolutely no relevant reason with the 9/11 attacks? I don't see how that could have set an example to other countries.

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