• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
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:
May 27, 2020
Ipek S. Burnett
The Irony of American Freedom 
Paul Street
Life in Hell: Online Teaching
Vijay Prashad
Why Iran’s Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Are Sending Shudders Through Washington
Lawrence Davidson
National Values: Reality or Propaganda?
Ramzy Baroud
Why Does Israel Celebrate Its Terrorists: Ben Uliel and the Murder of the Dawabsheh Family
Sam Pizzigati
The Inefficient and Incredibly Lucrative Coronavirus Vaccine Race
Mark Ashwill
Vietnam Criticized for Its First-Round Victory Over COVID-19
David Rovics
A Note from the Ministry of Staple Guns
Binoy Kampmark
One Rule for Me and Another for Everyone Else: The Cummings Coronavirus Factor
Nino Pagliccia
Canada’s Seat at the UN Security Council May be Coveted But is Far From a Sure Bet
Erik Molvar
Should Federal Public Lands be Prioritized for Renewable Energy Development?
R. G. Davis
Fascism: Is it Too Extreme a Label?
Gene Glickman
A Comradely Letter: What’s a Progressive to Do?
Jonathan Power
The Attacks on China Must Stop
John Kendall Hawkins
The Asian Pivot
May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail