(This blog was supposed to post on Tuesday, but technical difficulties again interfered, so I'm trying to get it to post again today.)
This very unusual article isn't so unusual, at least, from one perspective. But it is big, and given the context of my speculations lately, i.e., that there's some sort of massive covert war going on, it may be another data point to consider. I don't know, and therefore, this is one for the "You Tell Me" category. It was spotted and shared by M.H., and it's a doozie:
Garmin hit with massive outage in suspected ransomware attack
As the article notes, Garmin, and major GPS firm, was hacked and their system actually went down (and I'm citing the entire article, composed by CNN business reporter Oliver Effron):
"We are currently experiencing an outage that affects Garmin.com and Garmin Connect," the company announced on Twitter
and the Garmin Connect website
. "This outage also affects our call centers, and we are currently unable to receive any calls, emails or online chats."
Garmin Connect allows users to track and analyze their fitness activities using the Garmin website and app. Since Thursday, however, the outage has prevented new downloads of the app, and the website was still shut down as of midday Friday Eastern Time.
Aviation also appears to have been affected. The tech news website ZDNet reports that pilots were unable to download the newest version of Garmin's GPS software, flyGarmin, which the FAA requires to be up-to-date. The Garmin Pilot app, which pilots use to plan flight paths, was also down.
Some Garmin employees say the outage is connected to a new strain of ransomware called WastedLocker, according to ZDNet. Garmin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, however, and CNN Business has not been able to independently verify that a virus caused the outage.
Most regular readers here know that I'm skeptical - no, very skeptical - of the security of cyber systems. To be succinct, I don't think any cyber system is secure, and hence, my difficulties with digital "currency" and "titles online" and so on. After all, if a young Briton named Gary McKinnon can hack into the US Department of Defense and pull up lists of ships of the "secret space fleet" and their captains and crews, one can pretty much hack into anything. Of course, there's always the possibility he was allowed to find what he found, in order to send a "message" to foreign powers. The technique is as old as disinformation itself.
But when we're talking about applications in widespread use for civil aviation, we're into some dangerous territory, the more so since Mr. Effron's article indicates that he was unable to confirm that it was a computer virus at all. Even so, on it's own, the story may not be that significant; it's just another hacking story.
Or is it? I have to wonder, because in the last few years we've seen Sony, Wells Fargo, Chase, JP Morgan, and a host of other companies, hacked. Additionally, we've seen some odd physical attacks on the internet and other infrastructure, which I've blogged about on this website, from the attack on the electrical substation at the southern tip of Silicon Valley a few years ago, to the actual physical severing of internet cables in San Francisco and Arizona, and all three attacks according to authorities were described as being very professional. People knew exactly where and when and how to strike. Similarly, we've also seen attacks on air traffic control (remember the Salt Lake Utah ATC outage?)
All of this has led me to entertain the high octane speculation that "someone" has been "mapping the internet."
In Garmin's case, with both civil aviation and individual tracking involved, it could be argued that, again, there was a very strategic calculation in the selection of the target. And it's that strategic calculation implication, here, that disturbs me. Could it be just a simple hack? Of course. But it's the wider context that bothers me, especially now, with so much strange activity, and apparent covert warfare taking place.
See you on the flip side...