FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Coming Internet-Based Global War

If you think your computer might be vulnerable to hackers…. you’re probably right.

Almost every week these days, I get an email from someone’s infected computer, asking me to open an attachment.  It was a local reporter’s system last week.  Maybe it will be yours next.  Maybe it will be mine.

Major corporations are hacked with frightening regularity.  Passwords and identities are stolen, credit card numbers are distributed.  Lives are disrupted.  It happens all the time.

Computer security software is notoriously difficult to install and maintain.

The #1 vulnerability?

Users who never even change the default passwords!  (Usually username: admin, password: admin)

Vulnerable PCs and careless users transmitted the Stuxnet centrifuge controller virus from computer to computer until it quietly found its mark:  The uranium processing facility in Natanz, Iran.

Once there, Stuxnet masked the damage it was doing by first intercepting the safety control signals prior to doing any damage, and then mimicking those signals as it tore the place apart, operating on multiple centrifuges at once.  Stuxnet was able to destroy about 10% of Iran’s enrichment facilities before anyone realized there was a software problem.

Last Sunday, Stuxnet reportedly shut itself down, following pre-programmed code.  How nice.  But don’t rest too easy: Support programs to Stuxnet, known as “Duku” and “Flame” are still out there… and tomorrow there will be more… and counter attacks are surely coming, as well.  Our troubles have just begun…

Stuxnet, launched in 2010, is currently considered the “state of the art” in computer virus programs, even called “rocket science” by the experts who analyzed it and figured out what it was designed to attack.  Stuxnet’s origins remain unknown, but all roads lead to… home.  My country.  The U.S.A..

Stuxnet and its delivery systems appear to be the “Manhattan Project” of the past decade, the result of a project inappropriately code-named “Olympic Games” (inappropriate, because the Olympic Committee tries very hard not to lose its trademarks and copyrights).

The equivalent of the Manhattan Project’s “Smyth Report” (published in late August, 1945), the public revealing of the Olympic Games project, has not happened yet — presumably because the “games” have only just begun.  In fact, we’re still in the qualifying events, and no one has qualified.  Stuxnet was only of limited success.

So maybe, just maybe, your computer has been violated?  Millions of conscientious, hard-working, diligent computer user’s systems have been infected at one time or another.  But even if your computer system has never been hacked, there’s still a very good chance that many of the parts in it are substandard:  In fact, chances are nearly 100% that something in your computer is counterfeit.

Counterfeit parts account for an estimated $7.5 billion dollars in annual lost revenue in America, representing 11,000 jobs.  Bogus transistors, diodes, capacitors, resisters, power supplies, relays, and other parts have turned up in U.S. military systems despite being accompanied by all the required “Certificates of Compliance” and all the other paperwork being in order — including the labels on the actual parts!

A recent Senate Committee report concluded that the Department of Defense doesn’t even know how large the problem is, but it surely involves millions of counterfeit parts that are now in service in the U. S. military.  An accidental nuclear war is made more likely by this problem.

But they are not alone.  Aerospace has also been targeted by the counterfeiters, specifically because, like “mil spec” parts, aerospace parts cost much more than normal parts do.  No one wants a 5 cent resister ruining a $100 million dollar rocket launch, so a 2 dollar resister is used instead.  But it might really be a 5 cent piece of junk!

Slap on a stolen hologram sticker, and it becomes very hard to tell where a part really came from.

But that’s not all.  “Diligent” manufacturers go astray, too.  Deadlines cause line managers to order workers to skip “required” tests, for instance.  This has been documented at “reputable” corporations.

And how about our nuclear reactors?

They buy the same sorts of parts our military and aerospace industries purchase.

Their computer systems and controllers are just as vulnerable to a “Stuxnet” type of virus attack as anyone else’s, because those computers and their security systems are operated by humans, and humans make mistakes.

Not only are our nuclear reactors vulnerable to attack, but so are our transmission systems — and the “smarter” the grid gets — that is, the more computerized its controls become so they can switch between energy sources and keep the lights on — the more vulnerable it will be to a sophisticated hack attack.

We have only seen the very first salvos in the coming Internet-Based Global War.  It’s no game, though. The stakes are very high and the players are very good at it already.

It’s hard to be perfect, we’re only human — but we’re battling against relentless, automated attackers.  Wish us luck.

Russell D. Hoffman lives in Carlsbad, California. He is an educational software developer and bladder cancer survivor, as well as a collector of military and nuclear historical documents and books. He is the author and programmer of the award-winning Animated Periodic Table of the Elements. He can be reached at: rhoffman@animatedsoftware.com

Oh and, we might lose to Mother Nature anyway.  One well-aimed solar flare in our direction can do more damage than a billion Stuxnets.

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail