THE CYBER WAR THREAT!
Nova had a program on this week about the impending cyber war threat that the media loves so much to go on about and scare the populace. I had hoped that it being Nova they would do a better job at covering such a topic but in the end this show was no better than a 20/20 episode and this is very disappointing. The show was remedial at best and I understand the need for that given the audience base concerned but really did you have to just talk to the beltway bandits like Richard Clarke and Former General Hayden? This is a disservice to the viewing public and frankly consists of scare programming out of PBS in the hopes of ratings?
I and others have railed about the cyber war rhetoric in the government and the media but this is PBS! Come on and do a better job of journalism would you? Look, here are the problems with your broadcast that I want you to pay attention to;
- Is cyber war possible? Sure, but on limited scales and really it would have to be truly backed up by kinetic warfare (i.e. boots on the ground) otherwise this is all just tit for tat espionage. You –rm a bunch of computers at Sony and we maybe shut down whatever is working in Pyongyang. This is not an existential threat and Nova failed to really get that across amongst the scary music and voice overs.
- The focus on the grid is one that we have seen many times before and yes, if a nation state made a concerted effort on 9 (count them NINE) choke points in the US they could in fact cause an outage on a national scale. How long would we be down? I am not sure but it would not be the end of the world and if you do such a thing you had better have C-130’s in our air space dropping troops at the same time to make it a war.
- The complexity of the systems and their semi interconnected nature makes an all out cyber attack on a national scale less likely and you did not cover that at all. There are many disparate systems in the grid and the pipeline systems. You could not likely without a great effort and a lot of luck have everything go down from a cyber attack alone. Simply put, you would have to have a kinetic aspect to the attacks to work. Something along the lines of the attacks on the transformers in the Silicon Valley area a year ago when they were shot with AK-47 fire.
- Lastly you did not cover at all the fact that there are many people out there securing this stuff where they can. I personally have been on assignments assessing the security of the grid and other systems that have SCADA/PLC’s and yes I can tell you there have been times where I was just flabbergasted by the idiocy. Why connect these things to the internet I will never understand. Why connect them via WIFI in the field makes my head explode.
Anyway, at the end of the day this show only made my head explode again at the poor quality of journalism, this time by a favorite of mine, Nova. It was one sided and just a scare piece. Has the government owned you so much that you need to be the cyber war mouthpiece for them? Did you guys lose a bet? What the holy hell were you thinking? Just stop, for the love of God stop.
Post Script Screed:
After watching this episode of Nova I went online looking for the “Aurora Test” documentation that they mentioned in the piece. The fact that they showed pages of the report redacted on air got me thinking about whether or not it was all still on the net. Well, yes yes it is and it’s all here. 840 pages of unredacted love from DHS who in their infinite wisdom through a FOIA request, released the WRONG documents. These were CLASSIFIED and they show the choke points to attack were you wanting to attack the US grid or pipeline as well as a full description of all kinds of data you would want to do so.
Yes, DHS, the people who brought you the TSA and other fun security theater programs have managed to single handedly pass out the keys to the kingdom because some asshat could not think their way out of a government provided thin wet paper bag. So there you have it kids, if you want to attack the grid have at it because in the scare-o-rama that was the Cyber War Threat they say nothing has been done to secure those choke points! Yes! Complete with shadowed anonymous speakers afraid to go on the record for fear of reprisals because they are telling the truth about our security fail!
If you are a reader here you have seen my stuff in the past on this as well as my digging around with Google to find all kinds of shit on the net that could lead to compromise of the grid. Truly, if the terrorists or anarchists or anonymous or even the fucking 13 year old down the street wanted to, they could do some damage with this stuff. How long until such a thing happens because some idiot can use Google and a COTS hacking program?
Talk about your black swans…
Yours in everlasting head-desk