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Government The Military United States

Government Spies Admit That Cyber Armageddon Is Unlikely 70

Nicola Hahn writes NSA director Mike Rogers spoke to a Senate Committee [Thursday], admonishing them that the United States should bolster its offensive cyber capabilities to deter attacks. Never mind that deterrence is problematic if you can't identify the people who attacked you. In the past a speech by a spymaster like Rogers would have been laced with hyperbolic intimations of the End Times. Indeed, for almost a decade mainstream news outlets have conveyed a litany of cyber doomsday scenarios on behalf of ostensibly credible public officials. So it's interesting to note a recent statement by the U.S. intelligence community that pours a bucket of cold water over all of this. According to government spies the likelihood of a cyber Armageddon is "remote." And this raises some unsettling questions about our ability to trust government officials and why they might be tempted to fall back on such blatant hyperbole.
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Government Spies Admit That Cyber Armageddon Is Unlikely

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  • because the corps won't allow it. It's bad for business, and the guys at the top are global anyway. They're all buddy buddy except for a few small fry too tiny to start anything real.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      as long as the corporations are reigned in and controlled

      otherwise the search for more profit by any means leads to the progressive impoverishment of the masses. at some point, a revolution occurs, the original idealists are shoved aside, and power is taken by the usual douchebags who appeal to the usual nationalist prejudices. as putin shows, nationalism demands imperial adventures to stay alive. put two major regions like that next to each other: china-russia, russia-europe, india-china, etc... and you ge

      • Agree, and it is our place to control and reign in corporations. If not in hand-to-hand single conmbat, then with the tools that we have to figure out the propaganda, decide how our vote is going to best preserve our standing and convince those around us to support the same vote

        The furor of ... um who were they, you know the 98%rs... has died off and according to the last election they did not even bother to vote, since the most corporatist party made gains in all arenas.

        Yeah , I know the D's play the same

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by whoever57 ( 658626 )


      Many wealthy people in the USA made lots of money from WW1 and many were all set to make lots of money from WW2, until those pesky Japanese spoiled the party.

      The current "war" is (I think) the longest continuous period of war in the USA's history.

      Corps make lots of money from wars, as long as they are not fought at home.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      because the corps won't allow it. It's bad for business, and the guys at the top are global anyway. They're all buddy buddy except for a few small fry too tiny to start anything real.

      Francis Fukayama, is that you? [wikipedia.org]

      "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."

      That's from 1992.

      "[U]niversalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government."??!?!


      Think ISIS agrees?

      How about North Korea? China?

      When are India and Pakistan finally going to come to nuclear blows?

      No more wars?

      That must be why the putative leader of "Western liberal [democracies]" is trying so damn hard to appease a bunch of medieval theocrats bent on obtaining nuclear weapons so they can literally "wipe Israel off the map".


  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who are these guys?

  • reddit taken offline?

    end. of the. fucking. world.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @01:46AM (#49307279)

    a cyber armageddon is super easy to avoid, all you have to do is not connect every damn machine to a network and for the ones that must be, secure them. it's quite obvious that we have the capability to find and exploit weaknesses, so why not use our knowledge and secure those few things that must be connected. we could also be prudent and require (by law) a certain level of software security for dangerous things connected to the internet (if stupid people insist on having them connected). finally, it sure wouldn't hurt if we started teaching things like how to mathematically prove a buffer wont overflow.

    • Check out stuxnet. It managed to jump an air-gap and infect computers that didn't have a connection to the internet. Your idea is a good one, but don't suffer under the delusion that it's a 100% perfect fix.
      • by evanh ( 627108 )

        Stuxnet did, of course, use autorun - A so called feature that was a glaring hole the day it was introduced. I can't believe autorun actually persisted beyond a year or so.

        Early viruses lived by being run from floppies. Most embedded themselves in other executables but in the case of the Amiga, it's early firmwares had a bug that would run a particular named file from any floppy inserted instead of from the boot drive in order to validate the disc.

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      A kind of cyber Armageddon is going on as we speak. It seems the US military, industrial and espionage complex is carrying out a range of rolling trial attacks. Basically testing their ability to censor the whole of the internet, so when they roll out their next propaganda campaign tied to military and espionage misadventure they will be able to create a vacuum of truth. That way, their lies will 'full spectrum dominate' the air and cable waves, long enough to complete that military espionage misadventure

      • pff... try taking your meds. when parts of the internet go down, people notice. remember syria when the NSA actually did brick routers there? yeah, that made headlines. after finding out what the US gov has been up to, people have become much more interested in the cause of outages. if the military gets caught doing something like that on the american public, there will be pitchforks and torches making an appearance.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Not only is it going on but it is strongly indicative they are intending to do something very naughty in the near future, which is why the push to surreptitiously trial out various methods because they know full well the majority of the world will disapprove of an impending action, a South American adventure seems most likely.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @02:32AM (#49307355) Homepage Journal

    You can easily distract the bulk of the population by raising fears of something they don't understand. Anything nuclear. Anything to do with computers. And so on...

    The question is not "why" they do this, but what are they trying to distract you from?

    • by msobkow ( 48369 )

      By the way, the thing they're distracting you from doesn't have to be some conspiracy theory craziness. It could be something as simple as fraud by the party's members, a bad economic report, a downturn in employment numbers, and so on.

      There is also the "positive" spin some try to put on it: we're the only party that can protect you from this vague uneasiness!

  • why they might be tempted to fall back on such blatant hyperbole.

    Throughout the past 50 years as corporations amassed more power to both influence and control the vote through their vested media interests and campaign finance respectively, regular constituents through a system of gerrymandering and voter ID law have become an incresingly less influential component of the american election. "government officials" are merely politicians holding office. They hyperbolize the threat of a "cyber" anything because they know it generates revenue for their real constituents and

    • by anegg ( 1390659 )

      The dynamic tensions (social in this case) that determine behavior have poles where extreme conditions exist. The prophecies regarding an "electronic Pearl Harbor" have been around since fear mongers discovered the Internet, maybe even before. These fears establish one pole, while the extremely complacent "it could never happen" folks have beliefs that form the other pole. Actual behavior lies in between. For example, at one point in time not too long ago (say early 1990s) many (most?) organizations tha

  • by Etcetera ( 14711 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @07:00AM (#49307737) Homepage

    Just armageddon (not the literal one, natch) through cyber means?

    This reminds me of the 90's when people would prefix things with "e-" without a unified definition of the monkier. "E-mail", "E-file", etc...

    If I had to guess, I'd imagine a "cyber-armageddon" as some sort of problem directly affecting logical electronic infrastructure. Imagine simultaneously wiping out all copies of DNS records everywhere (including hosts files) through some mysterious malware, blowing up a bunch of datacenters, and a Sony Pictures-like virus that hits Google and wipes out all code backups. That might be a "cyber-armageddon."

    That would suck, and would cause quite a bit of culture shock (and, of course, would be a catastrophic economic event), but it would not be the End of the World.

    On the other hand, an EMP attack against the United States which disables/blows most non-hardened electronic equipment and causes a quickly-cascading North American power system collapse everywhere all at once would be a *true* (figurative) armageddon. That's really what I think of when dealing with continuity of government plans and "dire threats". American society would find a way to survive without the Internet (although true, unprepared Millennials might suffer debillitating levels of shock). American society would probably *not* find a way to survive after a few months of a power and communications outage, however, at least in its current geopolitical form -- and especially if a power vaccum formed internationally. (Think "Revolution" without the hand-wavey, future-science gobbledygook.)

  • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

    According to government spies the likelihood of a cyber Armageddon is "remote." And this raises some unsettling questions about our ability to trust government officials and why they might be tempted to fall back on such blatant hyperbole.

    So I am confused are we happy an official finally offered a reasonable and likely accurate description of the risks we face, and correct identification of the problem, attribution, or not?

    • by Livius ( 318358 )

      are we happy an official finally offered a reasonable

      Not happy at all. There's no way they would suddenly start doing something reasonable without a hidden agenda.

  • Most people ignore things whose risk could not be determined. In their mind, they divide issues into what can be estimated and what can not be. Then they spend time on estimating the risk of things that they can estimate. So much of the mind share is taken by things that can do something about, the risks of things they could not estimate gets relegated into some corner.

    Some sort of, "we can't do anything about it anyway, so why think about it or talk about it?". That is how people get blindsided. Remember

  • Cyber Armageddon? Sure it's possible and very probable. It's just that no-one's bothered to try it big scale. No-one wants to admit it either, so their only choice is to deny that it's possible.

  • So it's "blatant hyperbole" that the threat of cybergeddon is remote? Doy?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday March 21, 2015 @09:14AM (#49308023) Journal
    Very lethal viruses and bacteria kill their hosts so quickly they lessen their chance for propagation. So less virulent forms propagate better. At some point some of their mutations actually help their hosts survive a little longer. Those viruses propagate even better. At some point the benefit provided by these viruses is worth having the infection, at this point the host and the former pathogen enter into symbiosis. Many of the microbes living in our bodies were once free living competing microbes that did all the food gathering, multiplying, fending off their competition etc. The most striking example is our mito-chondrial DNA which are the real power generators in each of our cells, which were once a free living bacteria.

    The computer malware is following a similar path. Some of the early viruses were so destructive. Then they got to be less destructive to survive longer. At some point the criminals started protected the computers they have infected from other malware, they reduced their load on their hosts, to survive longer, and to keep the owner fro dumping the machine for a newer one. It is possible there are uninformed computer owners whose computers anti-virus software is actually one of the malware they had picked up. So at some point we will be having these malware incorporated into our computers in some symcyberosis?

  • There seems to be a presumption that these characters understood the speciousness of their claims. Much of the technology sector, and much of society, consists of the clueless being led by the marginally clued, or even just the clueless that shout the loudest. Assigning responsibility in such circumstances is often a fool's errand.
  • And the disturbing fact is even if there is a risk it would be childishly simple to remove that risk, just pull the network plug to the utilities and harden consumer electronics. Even if you need remote monitoring it would be easy to create equipment that would allow for unidirectional monitoring with absolutely no risk to critical systems. Instead we seem hell bent on integrating ever more insecure systems even further into our lives. And our supposed "protectors" seem content to continue this trend and

  • So, as I read through the comments, I'm struck by the speed with which we stake out positions. Cyber armageddon (CA) vs. end of warfare? Isn't there anything in between?

    • A couple of commenters mentioned fringe groups who commit violent criminal acts. That's pretty much orthogonal to both CA and conventional warfare.
    • At the other end of the spectrum, what about multinationals using cyber espionage or cyber sabotage as just one more tool in their competitive arsenal? (For instance) McDonalds takes down Bu

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?