POTUS Has Dialed Into The W.O.P.P.R.
Scene: POTUS stands silhouetted in the doorway of the SITROOM looking intently at a small tablet screen. Around him his cyber generals sit shifting uncomfortably from time to time in the long pregnant pause.
POTUS: “Clarke, so, you say this is the only way that we can get into and destroy their capability?”
Clarke: “yes” he says lugubriously
POTUS: “Well then, let’s send them the stick.. Someone will be stupid enough to plug it in”
Scene: The generals all rise and leave single file out the door falling into the darkness of the hallway in the bowels of the White House. POTUS looks up at Clarke who is fixing his one black leather glove.
POTUS: “You know, if this goes wrong we’ll just blame it on Israel right?”
Clarke: “That contingency has already been taken care of, I have primed the veep… He’ll fbomb that shit like a tourretts patient off his meds”
POTUS: “God love that crazy mick”
Cut scene: Screen goes dark
Stuxies Midnight Emissions
Well, it’s been a crazy week or so in the news cycle. With the revelations that POTUS personally had a hand in the destruction of Iranian nuclear centrifuges with malware, the floodgates of stupid have opened up and we have a wave as high as the biblical one that wiped the earth clean of people (if you believe that kind of crap) Since this came to light in the NY Times, we have had all sorts of characters pontificating on the subject. Everyone has their opinion and unfortunately, all of them mean nothing to anyone of note because the real decisions of state have already been made haven’t they? Onward we will sally forth though, with vigorous words on how we are the pre-eminent power on earth and how we are blessed by God him/her/itself and looking back be damned. We had the coders and we had the will so we did it.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with the end result of the Stuxnet malware itself. I think though we could have been more subtle and manipulated their product instead of just causing the centrifuges to eat themselves, but, that is another story. No, we did what I think was a nice little piece of work against a regime that is unstable enough to do more with nuclear weapons than just stockpile them. Frankly, one way or another, Iran will eventually get the nuclear bomb, but, we seem to have slowed them down a bit at the very least with this attack. Or, I should say, did slow them down, for a little while. Now though, after this report in the Times and the non attributable crowing of the administration that was behind it attributing themselves as the culprits, I think that Iran will just redouble their efforts on this issue as well as the development of Stuxnet II “This Time It’s Personal” as the movie poster will declare.
Nope, for me the issue I have with all of this is that the admin is using this as a cudgel to win an election. This and this alone is the bone of contention I have with POTUS and company. A POTUS that ostensibly is SOOOOOO upset over leakers and prosecutes them to the fullest of the law.. That is, until it serves their personal or political needs that is. I find it comical now that there are calls in the senate to investigate the “leaks and leakers” within the White House who talked to Sanger about their digital daring do. All you really need to do Mr. senator is walk up to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and knock on the oval office door. You can find the leaker there I can assure you.
Hubris, thy name is “Politician”
Politics, Pedantry, and Hucksterism
So, there you have it, we created Stuxnet with much secrecy, so much secrecy that it got leaked to the New York Times! Well, not so much leaked as much as planted in the Times by the spinmeisters as a political pogramme on us all to sway our vote. The Times story is rife with allegory on how the admin was taking care with this operation and that they wanted as little collateral damage as possible. The program was tested on an analogous testbed with equipment that we got from Libya, the results of which were the destroyed remains of the centrifuges, all was in preparation. All we need then do was get an asset on the ground to plug in a USB stick and viola! Instant PWNAGE!
I’m sure there will be a full length feature film soon and it will be fueled by the leaks that this Times article and subsequent book were as well. Do you suppose they will be filming at Ft. Meade? Will Mike Hayden make a guest appearance? We all want to know! Suffice to say, that the media, the pundits and the other nations of the world will be taking note and working out their responses to all of the revelations from POTUS and company. For me though, my response is already quite clear…
This whole escapade was ruined by the need of the admin to tattle on itself. I personally highly doubt that this was leaked by one person and all by themselves outing a whole clandestine operation. No, this was a political move, one that will I think, have some blowback on us all. Some will make the argument that the US wanted the Iranians to know, so we could be the “Babe Ruth” pointing at the backfield as if to say “That’s right muthafuckers… We are the shit and we will fuck you up.” I do not ascribe to that being the case as a tactic, hell, Biden then throws the Israeli’s under the bus twice in that article! It was the equivalent of verbal chaff and anyone with half a brain can see that.
“Well we did this because we wanted to settle the Israeli’s down, or they would have gone in hot”
Uhh yeah, nice way to say we did it “only because we had to”
Say, didn’t I see an ad by you offering a sweet price on a bridge somewhere?
Tell the truth, you wanted this out on that particular Friday because the jobs numbers were EPIC SUCK ok? Just please, admit it! C’mon, somewhere in your addled minds you know you want to tell the truth sometime!
FLAME ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND!
Meanwhile, the FLAME debacle came into focus. An uber malware designed in the future by mad scientists and SKYNET with a 18 meg LUA decoder! This little gem has been perfectly timed to coincide with the STUXNET. Well, maybe, since it was Eugene Kaspersky ringing the bell on this one, perhaps not. However, the FLAME seems to be all about stealing every conceivable piece of data it can get its hands on. It was a welll run operation that has been going on since at least 2010 and bears the hallmarks of an intelligence agency running it. The use of cutout accounts with multiple names and locations as well as payment schemes shows that it wasn’t just Joe botnet herder. No, this one also was nation state most likely, but who’s?
More importantly, how many of you out there would like to take odds on just when POTUS will leak the details of how we did this one to the Times? Takers? Anyone? C’mon I can bet bitcoins! Aww shucks… Guess you are all too smart and know that soon enough we will be reading about this “super secret black operation” in the papers. Even today more facts have come out of the reverse engineers saying that FLAME has a novel MD5 attack that has been known about since 2008 was it?
Be assured, that the FLAME will burn on as will the stupid around it from all sides.. Media.. Pundits…Politicians.. Malware vendors… I don’t care if FLAME is LAME, I only care that this escalation is getting out of proportion and those running the programs are leaking the details to effect their political efforts.
Let’s CYBER Like It’s 1999
Now on to the word “CYBER” and its unfortunate tagging with “WAR” right after it. I have railed against this word for some time now but even with the best of my efforts, the douchery abounds. In fact, the douchery seems to know NO bounds frankly. I remember a time when CYBER was only followed by SEX and really wish it would just go back to being that. Instead, we now have doctrine being written for “Cyberspace” and plans being made to militarize it all. All the while though not many really understand the space or the technology that they want to “CYBER” in! I can smell the fail now and it smells of cheap political and capitalist cologne.
Aside from the nomenclature issues here, I feel like others I have seen, that this has all been one giant mistake. We have opened “Pandora’s Box” as Mikko put it, and we are not ready for the consequences. I am damn sure that our infrastructure isn’t never mind the people and companies that run and own it all. Try getting all of these players to secure their shit even on a microcosmic scale and you will see my pain. We in the business have known all too well that too many times within the mental calculus that management makes, security is a lesser understood or cared about concern over the bottom line in the world of black ink in the books.
So, my prognosis for this patient is “you’re fucked” but, with the caveat that we have been for a long long time. Will all the antics with the declaration of “CYBERWAR” by the Obama administration really make a difference in the tempo of battle already ongoing? Will nation states and others speed up their efforts to bring down parts of our grid? To what end? What are we producing that is equivalent to a small vector like Natanz and nuclear fuel? I guess what I am asking is, just what are the odds of the first great CYBERWAR being brought to our digital shores? Can I expect to turn on the light switch soon to find that there is no power?
Or even worse… Will they STUXNET Apple’s facilities so the kiddies can’t get their new shiny MacBooks?
OH THE HUMANITY!
I guess this is all being mapped out, kinda like the PROJECT X that plans on mapping the whole of the internet.. So they can attack it. Time will tell I suppose, but, in the meantime, your douche forecast is for a high probability of douchery at levels never before seen. So wear your rubbers kids.
But seriously, I think that we are doomed. Not the kind of doom where the world will end in a zombie apocalypse though. Hell, I would love to have that instead of what we are going to get. Instead we will have more stupidity, more controls being placed on the internet, and a slew of half baked ideas that will only serve to make us all more constrained in our daily affairs online. Oh, and we will also live every day more in fear that some nation state, corporation, or crazy group of terrorists, will attempt to destroy something in our infrastructure…
Because they can and feel the need to.
Welcome to the CYBERWARS! Please keep all hands and feet inside the ride at all times.
Barf bags will be available for fifty cents at the ride’s end.