Internet Divide And Conquer

Cut Cable

Remember in the old Western’s when the Indians were about to attack the town, and before they rode in with knives and flaming arrows–what would they do?  


The Indians would cut the telegraph lines–no calls for help out, and no communications in–the town and its people were completely cut off.


The very next scene would be the slaughter of everyone in the town including a bunch getting scalped. 


How have things changed in the 21st century?


Not so much so, as the New York Times reports today on the constant threats to our underground Internet lines being cut–with 16 cuts to the lines in the San Francisco Bay area alone in the last year. 


Similarly just a couple of weeks ago, the media was reporting about the U.S. being worried about Russian subs cutting the undersea Internet cables.


But isn’t the Internet built like a spiders’s web (i.e. the World Wide Web) with redundant routes so that it can withstand even a nuclear attack?


Apparently, if you take out key Internet Exchange Points (IXP) or major international cable lines then the Internet can be seriously disrupted. 


Similar to the impact of an EMP weapon that fries our electronic circuits…poof no more communications. 


If you can cut off our core communications ability–then it’s a simple strategy of divide and conquer.  


Divided we are weak and can’t communicate and organize ourselves to either know what’s going on or to effectively respond. 


Like sitting ducks in the Old West surrounded and cut off–it was a slaughter. 


This is why it is so critical that we not only build redundancy in the cable lines, but that we create alternatives like satellite Internet or Google’s Project Loon for balloon Internet access.


It’s not just the military, law enforcement, and emergency management not that needs to be able to communicate–we all do!


With excellent communications, we can unify ourselves and we are strong–but if we are left in the dark, then divided we fall. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

From Vintage to Modern Threats

Just wanted to share this short video captured of vintage fighter planes flying over the Washington Monument in D.C. on Friday, May 8.



This was in commemoration of 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. 



My father (A’H) used to tell me about when he was in England during the war and the Nazi bombers would fly over and carpet bomb them in a blitzkrieg.



This happened night after night, and so adaptive as people are, they sort of got used to the bombardment, if that is possible to say. 



After a while, instead of taking safety behind closed doors at home, people returned to go to the movies and dancing at night, even while the buildings next door were still being blown up–to the right and the left of them. 



In the morning, those who survived would get up, and see what was knocked down and what still standing. 



Hard to imagine living that way!



Now with new more destructive weapons (WMD, ICBMs, EMPs, etc.), we can only imagine that the destructive aftermath of WW II would be nothing in comparison to what a round III would be like.



It is crucial that we maintain our innovativeness and military superiority and not only offensively to defeat the enemy, but defensively so that we can stop whatever is coming at us whether a dirty bomb in suitcase, an ebola-type virus in an infected person or food, a drone carrying anthrax, or malware over the network.



We have come a long way in the last 70 years technologically, but the risk and stakes have also never been higher. 😉



(Source Video: Minna Blumenthal)

A Political Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear

Thought this was an awesome photograph.


Taken on the Washington, D.C. Mall…


You can see the Capitol of the United States in the background.


The gate is surrounding the construction being done.


On the fence is a Teddy Bear–representing so many of our national challenges–sort of just hanging there helpless.


This political bear looks like he’s clutching for dear life, but unfortunately he is left hung out to dry as we just keep chugging away…but where is the real progress? 


– ISIS and radical Islam is still growing stronger.


– Iran continues building toward a nuclear WMD.


– China and Russia are “becoming [ever more] aggressive as they perceive U.S. pulling back.”


– North Korea achieves capability for a “nuclear ICMB.”


– Cyber insecurity is a “real and growing threat.”


– There is a growing danger of a catastrophic EMP attack with a “staggering human cost.”


– Immigration crisis remains in “limbo.”


– Economic growth is “grinding to a halt.”


– National deficit is “projected to skyrocket over next decade.” 


– American economic competitiveness is in ongoing “slow decay.”


– U.S. education “still lagging” significantly in science and mathematics. 


– Life expectancy in U.S. ranks 26th, “right behind Slovenia.”


This doesn’t mean that good things aren’t continuing to happen especially with innovation despite all the gridlock…there is the Apple Watch (ok, the jury is still out on that one too).


Why don’t we let the bear down gently please. 😉


(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

Hmm…A Nuke Deal With Iran–Just Ask Why?

iran burns flags

Here are 10 simple points any reasonable person would ask about a Nuke deal with Iran:


HATRED OF AMERICA–THEIR ENEMY #1:


1) Iran, of the Axis Of Evil, considers “The Great Satan” (as they call America) their “number one enemy”, they chant “Death to America,” and even hang our President in effigy.


MURDERING AND THREATENING TO RAIN DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ON AMERICANS:


2) Iran threatened brutal attacks on America as well as on the President’s family, and Iranian military documents endorse a devastating EMP attack on the United States

3) Iran says it will destroy the U.S. Navy, and destroyed a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in February!

4) Iran held our diplomats hostage for 444 days

5) Iran through it’s proxy Hezbolah killed 241 U.S. Marines in the Lebanon suicide attack.


DENYING THE HOLOCAUST AND THREATENING ANNIHILATION OF ISRAEL:


6) Iran threatens to annihilate Israel.

7) Iran is a leading denier of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were murdered just 70 years ago. 


THE WORLD’S LEADING SPONSOR OF TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES:


8) Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism worldwide.

9) Iran is the worst human rights offender in the world today.


ONGOING DEFIANCE OF THE WORLD ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION ACTIVITIES:


10) Iran continues to hide their dangerous nuclear activites from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), even as they profess cooperation, seek a lifting of sanctions and legitimacy for their nuke program. 


(All opinions my own)


(Source Photo: here with attribution to MEMRI via Fox News)

Stop The Nuclear Threat

Armageddon
Before we get too rosy on the State of the Union…

 
Fascinating article in Forbes on the threat from nuclear armageddon. 
 
– The Russians nuclear missile survivability is improving with missiles “equiped with four warheads that can be independently targeted.”
 
– Typical yield is 500 kilotons–“equivalent to half a million tons of conventional explosives.”
 
– The impact of a single nuclear explosion is that it heats the targeted areas to a “few thousand degrees.”
 
– If/when exploded over a major city, “everything within a one-mile radius is destroyed, heavy damage extends to three miles, and fires will be widespread out to five miles.”
 
– People at ground zero will be annihilated immediately “by the blast effects or a wind-spread firestorm…(initial wind speed 700 mph)” 
 
– Those father from the epicenter will “linger longer before succumbing to the effects of prompt and delayed radiation.”
 
– Due to the magnetic pulse, “electronic devices will be shut down for a hundred miles in every direction.”
 
– How many long range nuclear missiles does Russia have? Over 2,000 (that are known)!
 
– Just 50, would leave every American city with over half a million people, “uninhabitable.”
 
Now think about the Mullahs of Iran targeting, America, “The Great Satan,” should they get this capability.
 
And do you think a Congressionally, bipartison endorsed, deadline-triggered sanctions on Iran should be vetoed or championed by the administration to stop this threat? 
 
May G-d bless us with the wisdom and strength of character to see through the delay tactics and subterfuge of our enemies and remove this real threat from us.
 
As to the Russians’ strategic nuclear arsenal, we better get moving along on Reagan’s Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative–because 2,000 is a heck of a lot of incoming! 😉
 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CX15)

Electrical Cataclysm

Electrical Grid
Warning from the former director of CIA in the Wall Street Journal today…



We are grossly unprepared for an EMP attack on this country!



Dire reports from the EMP Commission from 2004 and 2008 have been “much neglected”!



The threat comes from nation states and terrorist organizations who can detonate a nuclear device above our skies by ICBM, SCUD missile (for example from a freighter near our shores), a space-launched vehicle that lifts satelittes into orbit, and even from low-yield nuclear weapons closer to home. 



Russia and China “have considered limited nuclear-attack options that…employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack.”



North Korea in 2012 orbited a satellite compatible with such a small nuclear warhead “for the delviery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S.”



Here’s the clincher on the damage this could do to us:



“Within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease, and social breakdown.”



But for roughly $2 billion dollars we could protect the national electrical grid with surge arrestors, faraday cages and more. 



However, the bills to authorize this and protect us are stalled.



This is a known threat that our enemies are preparing for and what are we doing sitting on our hands, again?

 

Or as the comedian Lewis Black says, “If we’re going nowhere as a country, why can’t we get there faster?”

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wil C. Fry)

Survival Is More Than An iPhone

Survival

Please see a new article by Andy Blumenthal at Government Technology.

We “need to learn ever new technology skills and simultaneously retain, old tried and true, core survival and self-sufficiency.”

This is a serious topic, and there will come a time when the lights go out and those who blend old and new skills will survive, while unfortunately, others who don’t, will not.

Hope you enjoy the article.

Andy

(Source Photo: here with attribution to U.S. Army Africa)

Blackout Nation

Blackout Nation

We are reaching an exciting but dangerous phase of technology adoption where our dependence is virtually complete.

From mobile to social computing, from telecommunications to transportation, from industrial systems to electronic health records, from banking to eCommerce, from homeland security to national defense–we are dependent on technology.

But while technology proliferates everywhere, so do the risks.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (16 May 2003) in an article called “The City That Runs On Sensors” talks about how initiatives like IBM’s smart-cities is bringing sensors and technology to everything running our towns–“Smart [city] innovation is improving our economic fabric and the quality of our life.”

The flip side is an editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal by former CIA director James Woolsey and Peter Pry who served on the congressional EMP commission warning how “A single nuke exploded above America could cause a national blackout for months” or years (stated later in article)

They write that “detonating a nuclear weapon high above any part of the U.S. mainland would generate a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse” (EMP)–and that this “would collapse the electric grid and other infrastructure that depends on it.”

This would be a national blackout of epic proportions that would impact all areas for 21st century sustainment of 311 million lives. Think for yourself–what would you be able to do and not do without the computers and telecommunications that you use every day?

Woolsey and Pry call for a preemptive surgical strike, for example, to prevent North Korean development of an ICMB capable of inflicting a nuclear EMP strike, but you can imagine other nations that pose a similar threat.

While be beef up our Cyber Corps and attempt to strengthen our tools, methods, and configurations, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing cyberspace.

Cybersecurity is more than just protecting us from malware infiltration and exfiltration–because the whole IT system that our society is built on can be wiped out not by cyber attack alone, but rather by collapsing the very electronic infrastructure that we rely on with a pulse of electromagnetic radiation that will fry the very circuits that run our devices.

While we build firewalls and put up intrusion detection and prevention guards and establish a court system of antivirus and spamware to put away violators and so on, how shall we prepare for a pulse attack that can incapacitate the electronics underpinnings–security and all?

“Star Wars” missile defense, preemptive action, and hardening of critical infrastructure are all security options–it costs money to keep the IT lights on, but better to pay now, then pay catastrophically bigger later. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

EMP Cybergeddon

Emp

Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) are the weapons of choice against electronics of all sorts, including cyber.

The Economist (15 October 2011) in an article called Frying Tonight describes how “warfare is changing as weapons that destroy electronics, not people, are deployed on the field of battle.”

Here a brief summary:

During the Cold War, the notion was to explode an atom bomb high in the atmosphere (i.e. a High-Altitude EMP or HEMP) “to burn out an enemies electrical grid, telephone network, and possibly even the wiring of his motor vehicles.

Today, that principle is being applied in smaller weapons using microwaves—from powerful batteries or reactive chemicals that generate high-energy radio frequencies.

By zapping electronics, EMPs can take down enemy missiles, destroy command, control, and communications capability, and stop in their tracks everything from enemy tanks to planes and speed boats. 

EMP weapons are already being deployed: 

Fighter planes are being developed with EMP capabilities using the active electronically scanned array (AESA) as defensive weapons against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, while other planes (like the “Growler”) are being outfitted with offensive EMP capabilities.

Ships too are being armed with EMP guns to defend against high-speed boat “swarms” or to defend against pirates.

Land vehicles will be armed with EMP cannons such as the Radio-Frequency Vehicle Stopper that can stall enemy vehicles’ engines or the Active Denial System used as a heat-ray to disperse crowds.

At the same time, defenses against EMPs are being deployed, such as Faradays cages–which are enclosures of conducting material often in a mesh pattern that protects electrical equipment from getting fried.

What is important to note though is that EMPs are not just battlefield weapons–they can take out our everyday electrical and cyber systems.

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report to Congress (21 July 2008) called High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments states “Several nations, including sponsors of terrorism, may currently have a capability to use EMP as a weapon for cyber warfare or cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure.”

The EMP Commission reported that EMP “creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences for national security.

One of the major concerns is the “cascading effects” that a loss of electrical infrastructure would cause in terms of people being unable to obtain basic life necessities and thereby resulting in that “many people may ultimately die.”

The report finds EMP weapons to be an “attractive asymmetric option” for our adversaries, and that analysts find that “it could possibly take years for the United States to recover fully from the resulting widespread damage.”

Therefore, it is critical that we increase our cyber security capabilities not only in terms of fighting conventional malware attacks from within the cyber realm, but we must be thinking in ernest about energy weapons directed at us from without.

We must continue to harden our defenses, invest in new technologies and countermeasures to thwart the enemy, develop punishing offensive capabilities, as well as prepare for the possibility of a strike against our homeland.  

Although called “human-safe” (and aside from the traditional weapons of mass destruction), EMPs may be actually one of the most devastating weapons of all to a society dependent of technology.

(Source Photo: here)

>The Editable Society

>

If you’re using a book reader like the Kindle or iPad and are downloading books to read, they are just like real paper books, except that the written word is now dynamic and the text can be changed out.

Wired Magazine, May 2010, has an article by Steven Levy called “Every Day They Rewrite the Book.”

“When you are connected to an e-reading device, the seller does have the capability to mess with the content on your device, whether you ask it to or not.”

Mr. Levy tells how “people were shocked to discover this last summer when Amazon, realizing that it had mistakenly sold some bootlegged copies of George Orwell’s 1984, deleted all of them from customers’ Kindles.”

Since them, Amazon “notifies customers of an update to the book they purchased; if a buyer wants the changes made, the company will replace the old file with the new one. In other words, the edition you buy remains fixed unless you agree otherwise.”

Changes on the fly—with the owner’s consent—is a positive thing when for example, publishing mistakes get corrected and new developments are updated, as Levy points out.

I guess what is amazing to me is that things that we take for granted as always being there…like a book, a song, a document, a video, a photo are not static anymore. As bits and bytes on our computers, e-readers, iPods, smartphones, and so on, they are every bit as dynamic as the first day they were created—just go in and edit it, hit save, and voila!

Documents and books can be edited and replaced. Songs, videos, and photos can be cropped, spliced, touched up and so on. There is no single timeless reality anymore, because all the material things that is being digitized or virtualized are subject to editing—or even deletion.

On the one hand, it is exciting to know that we live in a dynamic high-tech society, where nothing is “written in stone” and we can change and adapt relatively easily, by just logging on and making changes.

On the other hand, living in such a malleable electronic wonderworld means that with some pretty unsophisticated and common tools these days, pictures can be doctored, books can revised, and history can be literally rewritten. For example, just think about how anyone can go on Wikipedia and make changes to entries; if others don’t cry foul and undo the revisions, they stick.

It seems to be that with the technology to quickly and easily make changes electronically, comes the responsibility to protect what is true and historically valuable. No one person should decide what is fact or fiction, a valid change or a distortion of reality—rather it is a mandate on all of us.

I think this is where the importance of democracy and things like crowdsourcing comes into play—where as a society we together direct the changes that affect us all.

It is a frightening world where files can erased or doctored, not just because your own work can be changed, deleted, or destroyed, but because everyone’s work can be—and nothing is long-lasting or stable anymore.

I may be particularly sensitive to this being the child of Holocaust survivors, where the notion of a world where holocaust deniers can just “edit” history and pretend that the holocaust never happened is a scary world indeed.

But also a world, where malevolent people like hackers and cyber terrorists or dangerous devices like e-bombs (electromagetic pulses or EMPs) can damage systems and storage devices, means that electronic files are not secure from change or erasure.

We’ve become a society where everything is temporary—our marriages, our jobs, our stock portfolios, our homes, and so on—everything is disposable, changeable, and editable. We have truly become an editable society.

We need to balance our ability to edit with the necessity to create order and stability, and like Amazon learned, not change out files at random (without notifying and getting permission).

In IT, this is the essence of good governance, where you plan a structure that can breathe and adapt as times change, but that is also stable and secure for the organization to perform its mission.