As you may have noticed, this past week I've been drawing attention to some peculiar news stories that somehow or other involve computer networks, database management and correlation, and cyber-warfare. In doing so I pointed out the recent claims coming from the Kremlin that there were serious hacking attempts that were being directed against Russia's upcoming elections, and more importantly, serious attacks on the office website of the Office of the President of the Russian Federation. You'll recall that I suggested that the Kremlin hack might somehow be connected to the strange spate of attacks on internet infrastructure and cables in the San Francisco Bay area of the United States, a connection suggested by the Russians themselves, who claim - without having provided any supporting evidence - that they had traced the hacks to an unnamed company in the San Franciso area.
And indeed, there has been a very peculiar and hardly "coincidental" spate of attacks of this nature within the Bay area of California, home, of course, to Silicon Valley and major technical and computer companies, home of Stanford, UCAL at Berkley, and a number of sensitive American research facilities connected with those institutions and the government, such as Lawrence Livermore laboratories. There was, you'll recall, even an attack on an electrical transforming substation at the southern tip of the area a couple of years ago, an attack executed quickly and with professional precision.
All this, in my blog about the Russian hack earlier this week, raised to my mind the distinct possibility that we may be looking at a full scale covert and cyber warfare going on in the world, and that the strange Bay area attacks may be connected to this pattern.
This week there's been another development, reported by RT, and shared by Mr. D.W., a regular reader and contributor of articles here:
Notably, as the article attests, there has been yet another attack on AT&T's fiber optics cable in the Bay area again earlier this week:
"It's at least the 11th such attack in just one year. The FBI already has an open investigation into other similar attacks on California cables, and assures that the most recent incident is not being taken lightly."
As the article also notes, an earlier attack just two months previously had interrupted internet service in Alameda county in that state, near the state capital of Sacramento:
"It comes just two months after someone severed at least three fiber optic cables in an underground vault in Alameda County, California, which disrupted internet and phone service around Sacramento for 20 hours."
I suspect we can discount the Russians here as potential parties to the activity, and this for a very simple reason that has developed in the immediate few weeks, and this is their deployment to Syria, and the signals from Mr. Putin's government that it views ISIS as a very serious threat, and wants to cooperate with Washington, which finally woke up and realized that it's creature(ISIS) was a very serious threat. The main sticking point between Moscow and Washington being simply Mr. Assad's regime in Damascus. Russia, in other words, may be the very vehicle that rescues a thus-far disastrous American foreign policy track record in Syria. Again, it was a clever move by Mr. Putin and his advisors, but it suggests that any good will that Moscow is trying to nurture with Washington over the ISIS matter would not be jeopardized by covert operations in the Bay area of this nature.
Which brings us to the matter at hand and some medium-octane speculation. The first is that these attacks on American communications infrastructure have to have American authorities - at both the state and federal levels - highly and quite justifiably concerned, for these are not cyber attacks; they are physical attacks by people who know precisely where to go, and what to do, and the fact that they have been able to do so without being caught indicates a degree of professionalism and training - of covert operations - that betoken state and/or corporate sponsorship from some quarter. This in turn means that there are professional teams deployed on American soil, that could, in California's case, take a short trip down I-80 to Sacramento, and conceivably conduct such operations that could imperil the normal operations of the state government of America's largest state. It suggests, similarly, that these teams would not be obviously identifiable as a potential threat, e.g., they would probably not be ethnic Chinese, or Middle Easterners. People raising manhole covers in the Bay area at night -especially if of a "suspect" group, would be...well, "suspect." More likely they would be under cover: repair trucks, cones, work coveralls, and so on(if indeed this is how these cable are being accessed. One has to wonder if, in fact, the public story of removing manhole covers is the full, or even real, story here.
The real questions to be answered are who? Who is one looking for? Whom do the federal and state authorities actually suspect? Thus far, we have not been told, and probably for good reason. But one clue might come forward if AT&T and the government authorities investigating these crimes would approach this from the point of view that I have suggested: these attacks are being done by professionals with a high degree of training, and commensurately, with a high degree of loyalty to whatever agenda they think they are serving. Consequently, a paltry $250,000 reward for information is unlikely to motivate any insider to the operation to step forward. What is needed is a higher monetary reward, and perhaps an offer of immunity from prosecution and witness protection. Perhaps the small reward being offered presently is an indication that the authorities and AT&T investigators do not suspect professional teams. Perhaps. Maybe. But the pattern that has emerged, beginning with that substation attack, suggests otherwise. So perhaps it's time for Ma Bell, Sacramento, and Washington, to up the ante, in order to find out exactly what's going on, and why.
Just a thought.
See you on the flip side...