Saturday, October 2, 2010

Cyber War

Iran is having serious computer difficulties from a malicious bit of computer code dubbed, Stuxnet. Among other things, it seems to be attacking the machinery used to control nuclear plants.

So what, you may be thinking. What has this got to do with me? Isn't it better to have nuke plants taken off-line by a computer worm than by fighter bombers with the Star of David on the tail fins?

Maybe, maybe not.

One of the problems with malicious code is the way it spreads. Maybe Iran may have been the target, but Pakistan, India, Indonesia and China also seem to be particularly hard hit. It has spread all around world; even to the US. Computer viruses are as uncontrollable as their biological versions. Mankind has recognized the hazards of biological warfare. We may learn the perils of bad code aren't to be taken lightly either.

Is a computer attack an act of war? Sure it is. Anything that damages the infrastructure of another country is an act of war. Countries being severely affected may certainly feel that way. Finding themselves under cyber attack, they may feel justified in counter attacking using conventional forces.

There are some disturbing elements to Stuxnet. It's a sophisticated program that may have required the resources of a state to construct. Should that state ever be identified, its leaders will lose a lot of sleep worrying about reprisals.

It's not the first time countries have been under cyper attack. Estonia and the country of Georgia have been victims of computer assault. In both cases, Russia was the prime suspect. However, computer code rarely leaves easily followed footprints back to its maker.

One of the dangers of this cyber attack is the threat of cyber reprisals. Many countries in the world have the talent and tools to fight on that battlefield. Imagine the possible collateral damage. The whole Internet could be rendered dangerous and unreliable. Our computer managed world could suffer major disruptions. Since much of the world's infrastructure is controlled over the Internet, times could get really hairy. Imagine, just for starters, power, communications, water, sewer, banking, and transportation systems breaking down.

What actions can a prudent person take? There are the normal ones that serve in everything from floods, to hurricanes, to earthquakes and snowstorms. Have some food and water stored up. Be able to make some of your own power or have battery powered radios and flashlights. Have a general disaster plan and kit. Would not be a bad idea to have some cash ready in case the ATMs go down.

I'm not predicting that an escalating cyber war is going to take place. However, a real cyber attack is going on, and there is the possibility for things to get much much worse.

Good time to take stock of your preps. How could you handle computer and Internet failure, along with all related systems?



  1. A lot of the computer viruses that hit here come from China. That doesn't mean that the government did it. You said: "required the resources of a state to construct". Don't see how that could be possible since it is private individuals who write the most complicated code. Politicians just lie, except Al Gore, he said he invented the internet :(

  2. "There are some disturbing elements to Stuxnet. It's a sophisticated program that may have required the resources of a state to construct. Should that state ever be identified, its leaders will lose a lot of sleep worrying about reprisals."

    Ho ho! That state, says dollars to donuts, is the good ol' U S of CIA. What can be done will be done - 6,000 years of domineering civilization has proved that point ad infinitum. The only ones to lose sleep will be the lackeys ordered into doing damage control. "Twas ever thus" :-)

    The internet is one cool tool - the world's encyclopedia at your fingertips 24/7/365.25+, and I sure will miss it once it is gone or no longer safe to surf in. Google is Grandpa - the place to go for things I need to know that isn't known by anyone within a hundred miles.

    Now that the main projects around here are all on the road to completion I don't have a great need for internet related financial transactions, so I'm doing a lot more cash transactions in front of human beings instead of online bill pay. Will keep one debit card for all the strange things one needs to do cool homesteading (the wife got an apple peeler from an internet business the other day) and get rid of the regular credit cards.

    You know how wonderful it is to go to a general store type place and turn on the gas pump and fill up without a biometric scan, swiping the credit card or pre-paying? I find it wonderful enough to be recognized as a human to gladly cough up an extra 3 cents per gallon.

    When technology bites you in the ass it's time to ditch it rather than develop a more complex way of using it. I like being a "throwback".