Monday, 30 May 2011

Never Consider Blowback

Update Nov 2013, blowback spotted.

When you’re spending a trillion dollars a year on defense, worthwhile adversaries are hard to find. Until WWII America did not have a eternal enemy. Before 911 all signs pointed at China.  April 03, 2001 a US EP3 aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter. The Chinese threat had never been greater. China was rescued scant month later by the 911 event. It was the CIA that created Al Qaeda, 911 portrayed how easily playing the Great Game can lead to self inflicted agony. Blowback is the understandable view of the law of unintended consequences. Blowback combined with asymmetric warfare is a force multiplier that any rational defense institution would take extreme care to ensure such a combination was avoided. Computer hacking contains elements of blowback. Particularly in the case of Sony, the creative commons reacted to Sony’s enforcement of intellectual property rights with a hack attack that cost Sony billions more than it would ever earn by preventing its customers from altering their property. Therefore it is astounding that when asked if the US was behind the Stuxnet worm attack on Iran, the answer was a non-denial denial.

Perhaps the greatest long term tragedy of the GWB administration was the reckless disregard for international law in general, and the tenets on nuclear non proliferation in general. Loud and clear was the message, if you do not want the US to invade you had better nuke up. Its not impossible to believe the administration was seeking justification for expensive missile defense programs. North Korea restarted and completed its Nuclear program, and Iran started a wink wink nudge nudge path towards uranium enrichment. Even now its not clear what Iran’s endgame is. According to the IAEA Iran has not violated any rules, but the IAEA remains deeply suspicious.

The Stuxnet worm attacks Siemens Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) programs. So the valves, sensors, pumps and PLC controllers that allow Iran to enrich uranium were made uncontrollable. How big of a setback the September 2010 attacks have been is hard to measure. Clearly state sanctioned attacks on a countries control infrastructure is now fair game.

By Feb 2010 the Stuxnet worm, a weapon of incredible sophistication likely unobtainable without state highly technical state sponsorship was available for any malcontent, state sponsored or just nihilist  on the internet. SCADA system are a near universal control system for any complicated process. For sure they are hundreds of times more widespread in western countries than Iran. The people responsible for this attack where incredibly irresponsible and short sighted. The countdown has begun and the blowback is building up.

And the hits just keep on comming.

Oct 12 2012 update. Defence Secretary is really worried about cyberattack. To bad the US education system has left the country nearly defenceless. Maybe he should have thought about that before he gave the world an advanced cyberattack template, that otherwise would never have been developed.

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