Patterico's Pontifications

12/20/2008

The Dangers of Cyber Terrorism

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:09 pm



Instapundit links a Pajamas Media column titled How to Prevent a Digital 9/11:

It starts on a cold November night. You went to sleep, comfortably warm, after listening to the late news: a nor’easter coming through, the worst storm in several years. You go to bed, quietly excited at the thought of the fairly certain snow day — build a snowman with the kids, maybe work through the email that has piled up, and do a little online shopping; after all Christmas is coming.

That’s not the way it works out, though — about 3 a.m., you awaken, cold. The house is too cold. You get out of bed — the hardwood floor icy against your feet — and when you flip the hall light switch, nothing happens. Odd, the power is out. Automatically, you look out the window and realize the whole neighborhood is dark; in fact, there is no sky glow — usually, you can see the red shimmer of New York City on a cloudy night. It’s darker than you’ve ever seen it.

The column explains that the scenario is based on a war game run by the “U.S. Professionals for Cyber Defense” shortly after 9/11.

The topic is always relevant but has new currency because of a report recently issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies titled: “Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency.”

I listened to a radio program about this last night and one of the experts said that hackers could easily take the U.S power grid to 70% capacity for six months, which would potentially be a death blow to the economy.

We have had major intrusions in our governmental security before. For example, a major breach of Pentgon security called “Titan Rain” was traced back to China:

[S]ince 2003, the hackers, eager to access American know-how, have compromised secure networks ranging from the Redstone Arsenal military base. . . Beyond worries about the sheer quantity of stolen data, a Department of Defense (DOD) alert obtained by TIME raises the concern that Titan Rain could be a point patrol for more serious assaults that could shut down or even take over a number of U.S. military networks.

And an operation called “Moonlight Maze” was suspected to have been run by the Russians, although I don’t believe this was ever confirmed.

Everything is run by computers nowadays, including important aspects of warfare: troop movements, flight patterns, and the like. They make life easier for us, but if they go down, they will make life much, much, much harder.

5 Responses to “The Dangers of Cyber Terrorism”

  1. More and more, it is apparent that we need our own version of “MI-6″,
    with “Double-Oh” personnel.

    Instead, we’ve got personnel in the DoJ writing some of the best restraining orders in town.

    Another Drew (4dc1ef)

  2. Russian Cyber Ops (from the KGB) have been interfering with the Baltic Countries repeatedly over the past decade – Lithuania and Estonia being among those who were seriously hampered by recent attacks:

    http://www.baltictimes.com/news/articles/21332/

    While the Russians deny any involvement in these activities, they’re not saying much about their interference with Georgian electronic infrastructure during the war last Summer.

    Dmac (e30284)

  3. Hopefully Obama will bring more techies into government.

    imdw (a60516)

  4. Hopefully Obama will bring more techies into government.

    There are plenty of them – one of the primary problems is that no “central command and control” of the government networks is in place.
    The other problem is that commercial companies get some pretty unsecure products on the various enterprises because of the backroom handshakes from congress & senate types, and retired senior gov/mil folks.

    voiceofreason2 (414069)


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