This has been an unusual week for articles, especially on the subject of cyber warfare, for a number of people sent me articles about different cyber-warfare attacks. What I want to do today is to bring them to your attention, along with some (very) high octane speculation.
First, Mr. J.S. sent along this article about Chinese cyber attacks on American naval vessels (USS Fitzgerald, anyone?):
And of course, no week should go by without a story about the Russians meddling in... well, just about everything, this time, in American power grids, according to this story shared by Mr. S.D.:
That story sort of reminds me about the speculation I advanced in my book The Third Way, about the French mole inside the KGB's technical acquisitions division, the "Farewell" case, as the French security services codenamed their mole. In that book I advanced the hypothesis that the gas pipeline explosion that occurred in the Soviet Union was caused by software that had been modified, and then dangled in front of the KGB to steal, with disastrous results.
Then there was this story about petroleum safety systems in Saudi Arabia being hacked(shared by Mr. H.B.):
There's an adage that says something to the effect that "two is a coincidence, three is a pattern." And if that be true, then what we're looking at is a pattern of increased cyber-warfare taking place, and given the distribution of these stories geographically, the pattern appears to be global. Now, I for one have no doubt at all that pretty much any nation in the top tier of economic powers in the world is spying on its "allies," and may be involved in more aggressive types of electronic and cyber warfare. Consider only the story about the USA listening in to Mad Madam Merkel's phone calls, which means probably that they're listening in to everyone else's, and vice versa. There have even been stories lately about the entire planet's openness to "hackability" from extra-terrestrials. We'll get back to that in a moment, or at least, get back to a more generalized speculation.
What also caught my eye in these articles, however, was yet another pattern, and that pattern is what is fueling today's high octane speculation. What I noticed in these stories, and if one thinks about it, pretty much every story on hacking lately (including those corporate hacks of the past few years), is the paucity of information and evidence to substantiate the claims being made. And that gives me concern, for in a climate where fewer and fewer people trust their respective governments, why should such stories be believed? After all, they've lied about everything from the murder of President Kennedy to there being weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So my advice to the power elites: drain the swamp you've created, and restore some earned trust, before we take you seriously.
But I do propose to take these stories seriously, just for the sake of my high octane speculation. Suppose, for a moment, that one wanted to ratchet up tensions all over the world, and suppose one was not any of the aforementioned major economic powers. Suppose, in fact, that one were not a nation-state in any conventional sense of the word at all, but rather, a kind of extra-territorial entity, like a major multi-national corporation, a rogue group like Anonymous (and admittedly, the distinction between rogue groups and some major multi-nationals is becoming fuzzier), or any group with highly polished cyber expertise, and the technology to back it up. Such a group might be able to hack into some nation's systems, and make it look like some other party was responsible. In short, one might be looking at a cyber-version of the classic false flag. And of course, nothing is to prevent those nation-states with such capabilities from doing the same thing: launching cyber attacks on a target nation, and making it look like some other nation was behind it. Indeed, one can imagine such cyber-attacks on one's own nation by one's nation, with the blame being shifted elsewhere.
However one parses this speculation, it adds up to two things: an increase in such activity, and an increase of confusion on who is doing what to whom, unless some meatier details are provided.
See you on the flip side...