Monday, November 16, 2009


It's been going in and out of style but it's not guaranteed to raise a smile.

"Cyberwar has become a growth market in the US." -- see here, eight years ago. The .pdf footnotes secret reports from the US military displaying electronic Pearl Harbor/information warfare rash ca. 1994-95. This approximately matches DD's old but more informal notes.

"The ultimate nightmare for a war machine that depends on a sophisticated electronic grid to function is to lose that grid, even for short periods of time. Preventing an electronic Pearl Harbor must be a prime Pentagon mission." -- today, some little newspaper in Florida.

Many of the people who originally pushed coming "electronic Pearl Habor" in the mid-Nineties are either now retired or nearing it. This shows the liability which occurs when most of the country does not actually have to fight in the wars the United States actually engages in.

Most of us simply have no idea. Many believe the utter rubbish published daily in newspapers from middling towns like Pensacola, Florida. Because it sounds concerned, decent and superficially wise.

Yes, there sure are a lot of dangerous cyberwarfighters among the Taliban and in Iraq. Always have been, always will be. Just yesterday, DD had to fight off a computer virus sent from Helmand region, Afghanistan.

"We sit at a similar historical moment ... War fighting is forever changed." -- Richard Clarke, something which will probably be in his next book, threatened here, for Spring 2010.

"Though it will never produce the kind of death toll of nuclear weapons, we can see echoes of these same risks and challenges in today's newest cyber-war battlefield. We've developed a plethora of gee-whiz technological capabilities in the past few years, but cyber war is a wholly new form of combat, the implications of which we do not yet fully understand. Its inherent nature rewards countries that act swiftly and encourages escalation."

Richard Clarke, in 1999, before he was way too famous, from Signal magazine:

In its August '99 issue, Clarke said there was "a very real possibility of an electronic Pearl Harbor."

"Without computer-controlled networks, there is no water coming out of your tap; there is no electricity lighting your room; there is no food being transported to your grocery store; there is no money coming out of your bank; there is no 911 system responding to emergencies; and there is no Army, Navy and Air Force defending the country . . . All of these functions, and many more, now can only happen if networks are secure and functional.

"A systematic [attack] could come from a terrorist group, a criminal cartel or a foreign nation . . . and we do know of foreign nations that are interested in our information infrastructure and are developing offensive capabilities that would allow them to take down sectors of our information infrastructure . . . "

Signal went on to describe a national disaster caused by cyberterrorists, embellished by Clarke.

"One possible scenario would feature a demand leveled by a foreign government or terrorist group," wrote the magazine. "When the U.S. government refuses to comply, this adversary demonstrates its capabilities by reducing a region of the United States to chaos. 'I think the capability to do that probably exists in the hands of several nations,' Clarke stated. 'I think it could exist in the near future in the hands of criminal and terrorist organizations.'"

"Envision all of these things happening simultaneously - electricity going out in several major cities; telephones failing in some regions; 911 service being down in several metropolitan areas. If all of that were to happen simultaneously, it could create a great deal of disruption, hurt the economy ... "

Richard Clarke's 'Breakpoint' -- a novel about cyberterror, from 2007. Subhed: "Is there no beginning to the man's talents?'

For Breakpoint, Clarke returns to his cyber-czar roots. But in this story, someone gets to do something about the digital mayhem, not just scream "electronic Pearl Harbor," make policy recommendations no one listens to and be keynote speaker at security conventions.

Clarke supplies a team of outside-the-bureaucracy do-gooders: a dauntless central heroine, one NYPD cop for muscle and one hacker, a nebbish named Soxster. Soxter's purpose is to be the magic wand, no more and no less. Whenever there are villains to be traced, or information needed when the group is against the wall in the race against the terror clock, Soxter furnishes both so the story may proceed.

Naturally, the US government is delinquent and ineffective ...

Richard Clarke, the best friend I never met.


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