Tim December 24, 2010 8:32 AM

Haha, I love how power cuts always lead to multiple pile-ups and trains crashing into each other.

Also this is pretty idiotic:

“The Menwith Hill Listening Station, which collects information from U.S. spy satellites and transmits it on to intelligence services on both sides of the Atlantic [is DDoS’d. …] Suddenly terrorists, criminals and enemy agents could talk and email without fear of being overheard.”

I think most of the entries for your movie plot contest were better than this.

Clive Robinson December 24, 2010 9:21 AM

@ Bruce,

This is Christmas Eve not April fools day.

It’s a Con job from the Daily Fail Online… The illegitimate offspring of a whale and a Russian Nuclear Sub is more respectable in this day and age.

It is a piece written for the proto “blue rinse women” that fill the ranks of the “chattering classes” of “the ladies who lunch” who think they are the backbone of the UK Conservative party these days who bow down and kiss the foot steps of “SamCam&Co”.

The idea is to get them all “a twitter” about “cyber war” and how it will degrade their all important quality of life as “Yummy Mummies” doing their credit card shopping in their 4×4 Chelsea Tractors, thinking what good drivers they are because they can see ten cars ahead to the next Chelsea Tractor whilst adjusting their makeup in the “Reversing Mirror”. It will make the idiots think their Oh so important lives will come to an end simply because their platinum CC won’t work and they don’t soil their manicures with real money.

As it happens not to many years ago London (or the South & East of it) had a cascade failure that took out the power just before the rush hour one dark afternoon. There where a few “fender benders” and people took a longer time to get home, Hospitals in Tooting around to Woolage carried on, the trains ran almost on time (which was realy surprising as they normaly run late).

But hey the Daily Fail has never let a stupid idea go by when it comes to their editorials.

They even make those “check out papers” you have in the US with stories about B52’s found on the moon and Ailies abducted my dog look good.

The idea behind the piece is a kick back against the Guardian Newspaper that has published much of the Wikileaks documents that have appeared in the press.

If they can associat Wikileaks with a compleat breakdown of these ladies who lunch they get one up on the Guardian plain and simple.

Oh and I would recomend the saterical magazine “Private eye” and it’s “Street of Shame” column to get an idea of what goes on between the UK newspapers. At the very least it’s an entertaining read (unlike the Daily Fail).

Geek Prophet December 24, 2010 10:06 AM

Hmm. This story could be really big. From the thrillers I’ve read in recent years, I thought they had all stopped having imaginations.

Bahggy December 24, 2010 11:58 AM

I don’t know where to start.
Menwith Hill connected to the Internet?
National Grid connected to the Internet?
No failsafes on the rail network?
DDoS from one residence?

What a moron. As Clive suggested, you wouldn’t expect any more from the Daily Mail – what interests me is what is the agenda behind it. Is it Guardian bashing or something else?

echowit December 24, 2010 2:56 PM

Best, most believable botnet thriller since “The Net”.

Of course, The Net’s incredible achievement of putting focus on, not just a house full of PCs, but a single 3-1/2″ floppy, will never be topped.

By the way, did others find themselves hating beach chairs after watching The Net?

Brandon December 24, 2010 6:15 PM


Agenda? It’s a book-review teaser. I imagine the publisher paid the Daily Mail a lot of money in order to advertise the book. Nothing more than that, I imagine

Thomas December 24, 2010 6:51 PM

To get the required quota of gratuitous nudity they can add a scene showing infected airport scanners streaming live to the boarding screens while the local cheer-leading team boards the plane for the national finals.

David Lightman December 25, 2010 12:50 AM

WarGames (1983), ,
a must-see for both the early movie-plot threat and for the laughs. (Brute force hacking a ten-digit alphanumeric password in all upper-case, one character at a time? Yeah, right, 360 tries, max.)

A classic of the genre, long before “cyberwar” became a buzz-word. And parts of the “thriller” discussed here may have been, uh, “inspired” by events in the movie of 27 years ago.

Dirk Praet December 25, 2010 12:16 PM

It would seem that at least some scenario writers have grown beyond the nonsense of “The Net” (1995), miracle cryptographic chips (“Sneakers”, 1992) and killer viruses (Independence Day, 1996 e.a.) . Inside job with an USB-stick (Wikileaks), targetting Menwith Hill (Echelon ?) and the power grid, using a worm (Stuxnet), executing a DDoS attack … All of these give the scenario a certain salonfähigkeit and credibility to the layman.

Then again, way too much unlikely stuff in here.

  1. Don’t know about the US, but as pointed out by Clive, the UK power grid may just be a bit more resilient than depicted in here.
  2. “Suddenly terrorists, criminals and enemy agents could talk and email without fear of being overheard”. Anybody assuming any such party is not already using publicly available crypto today ?
  3. In spite of the general tendency to move from proprietary controls and communication protocols to tcp/ip, it’s a fallacy to assume that everything is transparantly interconnected, let alone connected to the internet. Anyone who has ever done work for the military is aware of that. Getting away with data the way Bradley Manning supposedly did is one thing, injecting code into systems may prove a hell of a lot more difficult.
  4. A DDoS carried out from one central location ? Can’t imagine anyone doing it like that because it defeats the entire idea behind a DDoS attack. This is definitely for plot/drama’s sake only.

Some additional ideas:

  1. One might wonder about the size of the payload of the worm(s) used to wreak havoc on all these different systems. I’m assuming it must be the size of M/S Office, implying thorough knowledge, multiple known vulnerabilities and exploits for each targeted system and application. Even if the payload could gain sufficient access privileges to actually run, within a well-secured network, monitors should be picking up suspect behaviour quite rapidly, cutting off infected systems and network segments in no time.
  2. “Cyber warfare” as a prelude to a global thermonuclear apocalypse sounds a bit incredible. Unless you think in terms of an end-times scenario – as Mr. Ahmadinejad allegedly is – there is exactly nothing to gain from it but mutual annihilation. In Islamic eschatology, Armageddon wil happen, but it’s outcome is unsure. Final victory will only come after Armageddon, when Isa (Jesus) returns to earth, fighting the anti-christ (Dajjal) together with the Mahdi. In the case of a global thermonuclear Armageddon, there just may be little left for the anti-christ to rule, nor for Isa and the Mahdi to save. Probably not entirely what the Prophet had in mind.

Anyway, looking forward to the movie with Angelina Jolie and Jason Statham in the leading roles. I think it’s gonna be most amusing, and hopefully will contain some real-life stuff such as the SSH-exploit used in one of the Matrix movies.

PackagedBlue December 26, 2010 12:11 PM

Could be worse than the movie, Sum of All Fears.


Now, Die Hard 5 Beach Bum: might be fun. Might even do better than Bond 23, if you can get the all the details, plot and tensions down.

Neil in Chicago December 26, 2010 5:29 PM

“the online ­version of poachers-turned-­gamekeepers”
Brilliant! I love it! Worth the surrounding rubbish.

Alex December 27, 2010 10:54 AM

Two commuter trains collided outside Three Bridges station in West Sussex

Which is on the third-rail electrified Southern network. Electric trains don’t move without electricity.

Peter E Retep January 12, 2011 7:34 PM

This goes to show the fallacy of Spencer Browne’s Laws of Form
as a movement regulator as was discovered in the U.S. decades ago.

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