Future Cyberwar

A report for the Center for Strategic and International Studies looks at surprise and war. One of the report's cyberwar scenarios is particularly compelling. It doesn't just map cyber onto today's tactics, but completely reimagines future tactics that include a cyber component (quote starts on page 110).

The U.S. secretary of defense had wondered this past week when the other shoe would drop. Finally, it had, though the U.S. military would be unable to respond effectively for a while.

The scope and detail of the attack, not to mention its sheer audacity, had earned the grudging respect of the secretary. Years of worry about a possible Chinese "Assassin's Mace" -- a silver bullet super-weapon capable of disabling key parts of the American military -- turned out to be focused on the wrong thing.

The cyber attacks varied. Sailors stationed at the 7th Fleet' s homeport in Japan awoke one day to find their financial accounts, and those of their dependents, empty. Checking, savings, retirement funds: simply gone. The Marines based on Okinawa were under virtual siege by the populace, whose simmering resentment at their presence had boiled over after a YouTube video posted under the account of a Marine stationed there had gone viral. The video featured a dozen Marines drunkenly gang-raping two teenaged Okinawan girls. The video was vivid, the girls' cries heart-wrenching the cheers of Marines sickening And all of it fake. The National Security Agency's initial analysis of the video had uncovered digital fingerprints showing that it was a computer-assisted lie, and could prove that the Marine's account under which it had been posted was hacked. But the damage had been done.

There was the commanding officer of Edwards Air Force Base whose Internet browser history had been posted on the squadron's Facebook page. His command turned on him as a pervert; his weak protestations that he had not visited most of the posted links could not counter his admission that he had, in fact, trafficked some of them. Lies mixed with the truth. Soldiers at Fort Sill were at each other's throats thanks to a series of text messages that allegedly unearthed an adultery ring on base.

The variations elsewhere were endless. Marines suddenly owed hundreds of thousands of dollars on credit lines they had never opened; sailors received death threats on their Twitter feeds; spouses and female service members had private pictures of themselves plastered across the Internet; older service members received notifications about cancerous conditions discovered in their latest physical.

Leadership was not exempt. Under the hashtag # PACOMMUSTGO a dozen women allegedly described harassment by the commander of Pacific command. Editorial writers demanded that, under the administration's "zero tolerance" policy, he step aside while Congress held hearings.

There was not an American service member or dependent whose life had not been digitally turned upside down. In response, the secretary had declared "an operational pause," directing units to stand down until things were sorted out.

Then, China had made its move, flooding the South China Sea with its conventional forces, enforcing a sea and air identification zone there, and blockading Taiwan. But the secretary could only respond weakly with a few air patrols and diversions of ships already at sea. Word was coming in through back channels that the Taiwanese government, suddenly stripped of its most ardent defender, was already considering capitulation.

I found this excerpt here. The author is Mark Cancian.

Posted on August 27, 2018 at 6:16 AM • 53 Comments

Comments

scepticalAugust 27, 2018 7:38 AM

I don't know. The things described are no fun, true. But, I can't see that it's enough for "In response, the secretary had declared "an operational pause," directing units to stand down until things were sorted out." It's just not enough for a (complete) operational pause, risking something like China making a big move.

stineAugust 27, 2018 8:47 AM

Well, since they've already got the service member and family information from the OPM hack, and they've got all of their life histories from the Equifax breach, all they need to do is hijack a bank, for example, the First Internaltional Bank in Duluth, GA, which they can probably do with just a single phone call.

The real question is would they actually be able to empty every account between 1pm Sunday and 9am Monday? And if so, who would be able to do anything about it?

Dr. I. Needtob AtheAugust 27, 2018 9:22 AM

This sounds just like a Tom Clancy novel, and it appears to fully comply with his requirement that, unlike reality, it has to make sense.

Impossibly StupidAugust 27, 2018 10:06 AM

I wouldn't say "compelling" so much as the next winner of your movie-plot threat contest. It's just overwhelming in assuming the worst case scenario for everything. History has shown that those in power, even in the face genuine evidence of wrongdoing, will generally deny the charges and do everything they possibly can to maintain that power. If anything, an avalanche of "Lies mixed with the truth" only serves as cover for the terrible things that actually do happen. The tactics aren't necessarily bad, but their scope is off. The idea that the end goal should be to move conventional forces is a complete misread of what cyber warfare (or any misinformation campaign) is good for in the modern world.

TexasDexAugust 27, 2018 10:16 AM

It's definitely a movie plot threat--an overly-specific, vividly imagined scenario with enough plausibility that it's rather unsettling.

That said, this is a bit closer to reality than most of the ones I've heard. Aside from the whole disappearing accounts bit I could see every bit of this playing out in real life, although maybe not with exactly the same end result.

IggyAugust 27, 2018 10:24 AM

Never under-estimate your opponent. The enemy rarely knows as much as you think he does.

SofaAugust 27, 2018 11:08 AM

Bruce, I think you mean "author" not "autor"

You have:
The autor is Mark Cancian.

- Sofa

echoAugust 27, 2018 11:17 AM

I read the whole thing as your average day in a large organisation where every known known goes off in your face.

MookAugust 27, 2018 11:52 AM

The parts that rely on external assistance seem somewhat reaching - specifically with relying on social media outrage mobs.

Other stuff seem more plausible.

PhaeteAugust 27, 2018 11:54 AM

Hollywood movie plot.

Possible, but improbable to do this to all people involved in the time frame allotted.

I'm not a fan of this writing style, if flows (stutters) like a list of bullet points.
Maybe i'm just spoiled by Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and the like.

QnJ1Y2UAugust 27, 2018 12:16 PM

The financial-accounts attack is probably one of the easier parts of the list.

U.S. service member's accounts are concentrated in just a few financial institutions. An exploit against just USAA, PenFed, and NFCU would give you a way to disrupt accounts for the vast majority of active-duty military personnel.

echoAugust 27, 2018 1:46 PM

This report is extremely sexist by the way. It has an old style movie and television show ethos of "When men were men and women screamed" all over it.

echoAugust 27, 2018 3:00 PM

@Jesse Thompson, @Nowg

There is an overall masculine tilt to the article. I'm not throwing a big hissy fit. It's justthat oft repeated standard views tend to be the default. Almost all of it fits with male dominated interests and ignores the broader strategic view. The bits which irked me slightly assume men are dominant fighters and women are the victims needing saving. There are also popular culture exploiting and ageist assumptions.

I'm also a bit worried, on reflection, this plays into the access by women to military careers is a bad idea syndrome. It's also a touch nationalistic and racist too.

Has anyone considered an alternative like, say, a massive natural disaster in a first world country where society breaks down and they come to help us? Aircraft carriers make wonderfull platforms for things like this which is why the UK not commissioning nuclear carriers irritates me no end. The mass production of water in a disaster zone is a real asset.

NowgAugust 27, 2018 3:25 PM

@echo

What do you mean by masculine tilt?

The mention of the fake gang rape video? The mention of a commanding officer being male?
Mention of the commanding officer being seen as a pervert and shunned if the officer's Internet history is publicly exposed? Something else?

Alice JohnsonAugust 27, 2018 3:49 PM

Speaking from my own perspective on sexism, the excerpt Bruce posted makes a lot of assumptions about the way the world works and what's harmful to whom, and also exploits common myths in ways that reinforce them. The most egregious thing that popped out to me was the "abuse allegations against PACOM" being somehow an effective thing, because in reality... it takes *a lot* of labor to take down an actual serial abuser, a hashtag ain't it. With the kind of pressure that actual victims routinely receive, every one of the supposed victims would recant quickly and the conspiracy would collapse. People recant regularly even when they have in fact been abused by people with the kind of power that an American flag officer has. People with that level of power regularly get away with bad things as alleged in the excerpt without any serious penalties, even in the "#MeToo" era. It might work, if you put a lot of effort into it... but more likely, if it worked, it's because the dude actually did all that shit and really does deserve to go down. That's the biggest thing, to me.

Other things... assuming that getting death threats on Twitter is some kind of disabling event?? Women with opinions on Twitter get death threats basically as standard operating procedure and they mostly carry on. Phrasing like "spouses and female service members had private pictures of themselves plastered across the Internet" implies that military spouses are all women and also that only women can be harmed by revenge porn and also that revenge porn is hugely harmful to military readiness, all of which are dubious at best, and founded in a sexist imagination of what the world is actually like.

Finally, unrelated to sexism, the whole thing is just preposterous. Cyberwar gains leverage through automation and concentration, but most of these attacks are highly personalized. For an old person, we send a cancer scare, for a woman it's revenge porn, for a male servicemember we fake adultery... way too specific to be feasible or realistic on this kind of scale. That works in personal attacks with a single or small number of targets. It doesn't scale to a million servicemembers. How does a bank account balance impact military readiness anyway? Is PFC Doe going to go AWOL because of a bank balance?

AlejandroAugust 27, 2018 4:03 PM

I worry about our corporate rulers and their government flunkies waging war on the American people some day, just because they can.

Government needs to return our private electronic data and identities back to us, for our control, as tangible property no different than the shoes you are wearing.

That's not going to happen because not only foreign governments/criminals, but our own government and businesses want it real, real bad. The power of having it is exhilarating. They leave no stone un-turned to get it.

There may come a day when say, Bank X, decides to delete or corrupt all the account data of Bank Y customers, secretly, just to give them a competitive edge. Or, some corporate executive drains the credit card balances of a few million people before disappearing to that island retreat no one knows about. Is there any reason that can't happen, right now?

What if certain corporations with extra top secret, double whammy permission of the government were collecting ALL of our user names and passwords via key loggers in the name of security? (Thus negating encryption.)

Is that impossible? Is it being done right now?

(Sorry, I need to go add another layer of tin foil to my hat, I'm feeling a little uneasy.)

IsmarAugust 27, 2018 4:21 PM

@echo
Maybe the main surprise will come from , say, an all female group of Chinese cyber warriors, who by definition think differently to the dominant male culture of the USA army ?

NowgAugust 27, 2018 5:24 PM

@Alice Johnson

Keep in mind that this scenario involved a "zero tolerance" policy where adjudication of abuse allegations takes place while the accused is suspended as opposed to the reality of adjudication happening while the person remains in a position of power.

HmmAugust 27, 2018 7:03 PM

@Alice

"Cyberwar gains leverage through automation and concentration, but most of these attacks are highly personalized. For an old person, we send a cancer scare, for a woman it's revenge porn, for a male servicemember we fake adultery... way too specific to be feasible or realistic on this kind of scale. That works in personal attacks with a single or small number of targets. It doesn't scale to a million servicemembers. How does a bank account balance impact military readiness anyway? Is PFC Doe going to go AWOL because of a bank balance?"

Well, if you consolidate all that pertinent information about service-members and employees and contractors and whatnot, you can start to see how such a coordinated series of attacks COULD be automated as described. Yes, an entire fleet/base/corps losing access to their bank balances IS destabilizing and readiness-reducing, without any question. Yes, people have gone AWOL for financial reasons like that. But more than the "rinkadink" level of inconvenience or such problems caused individually, the real strategic aspect of it lies in coordinating the attacks and causing such little things all at once to on balance overwhelm and disrupt the normal functions, for xyz advantage that gains an adversary. Spearphishing itself is not a sophisticated or particularly significant threat to an entire army, but a coordinated campaign of several hundreds/thousands of minor attacks at the same time as other campaigns can cause unforseen readiness issues that overlap.

Would everything ground to a halt? Probably not. But we can't anticipate every possible attack method either, and if they were able to achieve a short-lived reduction in capabilities as a prelude to larger coordinated events, THAT is the threat described. It wasn't long ago that special forces operations staff were being tracked on their fitbits around foreign hostile areas, for example. What if an adversary had decided to suddenly capitalize on that information advantage? You can't simply write off "little" vulnerabilities if you're looking at the entire strategic potential for them to be chained and acted upon, the worst case scenario has to be planned around those myriad little security gaps or we're realistically unprepared for it.

As far as the sexist tone, that's just one of the relics or residuals of a sexist society and history as far as I'm concerned. I wouldn't take it as the authors 'intent' and I'd imagine they weren't aware of that perception. It's a relatively recent realization that those old norms and casual memes are unfair or limiting. Especially in military circles, right? But it's fair on your part to point that out I think, for the author and others to realize how they themselves have such relics of perception ingrained in themselves also, realized or not.

Impossibly StupidAugust 27, 2018 10:06 PM

@Hmmm
"overwhelm and disrupt the normal functions"

The problem is that the "normal" functions being disrupted are those of peacetime operations. That's exactly the wrong thing to do if you want military operations to grind to a halt. Which is more likely:

A) "Private, an attack by X has zeroed out your bank balance. We don't know what to do about it right now, so we're sending you home broke. Have fun with that."

B) "Private, an attack by X has zeroed out your bank balance. Since the eggheads can't fix it any time soon, soldier, what say we go kill some of those X until they sort out where your money went?"

HmmAugust 27, 2018 10:45 PM

@Impstu

I think we don't really know how a major civilian cyber-event would play out "militarily" directly.
Attribution takes time. You don't want to justify, say, bombing & invading Iraq because of 9/11...

So far nobody has been bombed directly in response to a cyber campaign AFAIK. (?)
And obviously that's not going to stop that threat, you could bomb for years.
As we've seen. (!)

Notice nobody has bombed Russia or China in a while. There are reasons why that is.
It could go nuclear. A cyber attack does not / has not warranted a nuclear response.

That's their angle. Cause as much un-escalable pain as possible, on the cheap.
Because they know we're NOT going to bomb them over that. Not even Trump.

ArclightAugust 28, 2018 12:00 AM

There is one fundamental assumption that is flawed: Once a real external crisis starts, it will have the effect of motivating everyone in the armed forces to focus on their actual job. The interpersonal drama and scandals will get put on hold and someone will drive around distributing envelopes full of money to dependents if that's what's required to get troops on planes and air defenses working again.

With regard to the difficulty in scaling these personalized attacks: China has a billion people to draw from and their society is much more cohesive than most Western democracies. There is the manpower to mount a semi-custom/semi-automated cyber campaign if that were necessary.

JackAugust 28, 2018 3:22 AM

What a load of twaddle : based on a total piece of fiction from a known warmonger-institution - You are talking real-life solutions??

You yanks really are a paranoid bunch..

Wesley ParishAugust 28, 2018 3:36 AM

Happy happy joy joy! Oh the joys of backdoors! And tradesmen's entrances!

You know, someone high up in the British Empire's command structure during the First World War once said about Admiral Beatty, that he was the only man who could lose the war in an afternoon. Royal Navy battleships had significant weaknesses in their armouring, notably their decks; British shells were perhaps heavier than the German ones, but their defect rate was significantly higher, and the Battle of Jutland showed that up rather painfully.

And the FBI and whatnot has been agitating for backdoors in software and hardware?

O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in't!

The answer to the question of just how realistic is the war fighting presented in the excerpt? Plans last up until the action starts. Then you wing it.

Fans of Iain M. Banks might remember a novel of his titled Consider Phlebas, where a galaxy-wide war is brought to a close by the Culture Minds infiltrating the Idiran computer networks and upgrading them to become Culture Mind equivalents, which cannot see the point of continuing the conflict.

Stanislaw Lem iirc, also had something to say about the interlocking vulnerabilities, where both sides become intertwined to the extent that they cannot move against each other. Perhaps that should be considered by all concerned - the PRC and the US of A and Russia and the EU and others stuck together like a ball of twine, unable to move for fear of disturbing the interdependencies.

The whole problem then resolves to : which day should we celebrate as Interdependencies Day?

Wesley ParishAugust 28, 2018 5:23 AM

One minor detail, Mr Cancian:

Finally, DOD needs flexible mobilization plans to hedge against the possibility of a longer or more intense conflict than it has experienced since Vietnam. This will provide a buffer against the impact of surprise.
How long were the US armed forces in Vietnam? And how long have the US armed forces been embroiled in Afghanistan?

You appear to have already committed one of the prime doctrinal mistakes: thinking that just because an armed force is not engaged against a roughly equal adversary, or engaged officially and fully in a "police action" ie, as "advisors", it is not actually engaged in warfare. That was the US armed forces' prime doctrinal error in Vietnam, iirc; by the time the NVA became officially involved in the war, the US armed forces had been fighting the Viet Cong for several years and had lost - permanently as it turned out - all element of surprise except the perennial one of surprise at just how stupid the Pentagon could be.

I have no doubt the PRC and the Russians have been studying the US pratfalls in Afghanistan quite closely; considering how close Afghanistan is to Russia, and to the Silk Road they would be incompetent not to.

Bauke Jan DoumaAugust 28, 2018 5:59 AM

I'm sorry, but I'm reading nothing new in your excerpt.

It seems to me business as usual, and old hat -- stuff that has been going on in so called rogue states (from a US perspective though in this case).

K.S.August 28, 2018 9:46 AM

I don't see how such cyber war will not quickly escalate into a hot war between two nuclear-armed countries, as such any analysis should incorporate MAD considerations.

Impossibly StupidAugust 28, 2018 9:53 AM

@Hmm

You don't want to justify, say, bombing & invading Iraq because of 9/11...

But that's exactly the kind of thing that happens in reality, rather than this suggested "operational pause" nonsense. The vast history of human nature is contrary to this report's proposed future.

A cyber attack does not / has not warranted a nuclear response.

It's not even about the magnitude of the vector, it's about the direction. The report proposes a military shutdown, which makes no sense. An argument could be made about what levels of conventional forces should be used to respond to different levels of cyber attacks. No rational argument can be made to send them home in the face of those attacks.

vas pupAugust 28, 2018 10:29 AM

How about hacking 'killer robots' as part of future cyber war?
Experts assemble for UN-hosted meeting on 'killer robots':
https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/aug/27/expert-meet-at-new-un-hosted-talks-about-killer-ro/
"GENEVA (AP) - Experts from scores of countries are meeting to discuss ways to define and deal with “killer robots” - futuristic weapons systems that could conduct war without human intervention.

The weeklong gathering that opened Monday is the second at U.N. offices in Geneva this year to focus on such lethal autonomous weapons systems and to explore possibilities for regulating them, among other issues.

In theory, fully autonomous, computer-controlled weapons don’t exist yet, U.N. officials say. The debate is still in its infancy, and the experts have at times grappled with basic definitions. The United States has argued that it’s premature to establish a definition of such systems, much less regulate them."

Ndigjdldjtj August 28, 2018 11:14 AM

The military’s answer seems stupid and unrealistic. At this point it would be obvious that someone was trying to make them stand down and the response would have been to put the Navy on alert instead, without access to the Internet.

Furthermore, so many attacks couldn’t be totally anonymous and it would become clear very quickly that China was the one to keep all eyes on, before they had a chance to start their operation and probably before all the chaos described in the article even started.

This sounds like another example of infosec people trying to inflate their role by overplaying the damage computer attacks can do. There are already plenty of important problems to take care of without adding imaginary ones to it.

TatütataAugust 28, 2018 12:26 PM

Experts assemble for UN-hosted meeting on 'killer robots'

Sounds like a rehash of the conferences at The Hague back circa 1900. Didn't prevent gas warfare in WW1, or many other atrocities that came along.

How about hacking 'killer robots' as part of future cyber war?

I close my eyes and imagine the nation's Roombas turning on their masters and their cats, together with the IoT kitchen appliances and the intelligent lawnmower. Alexa is enlisted as a scout. Cars shut down in the desert at high noon, locking-in their occupants in 40+ temperatures. Trains disregard signals. Chemical plants explode.

Might eventually make a very moderately interesting pitch for a flick. Like "Rubber" back in 2010: " [Robert, a] homicidal car tire, discovering it has destructive psionic power, sets its sights on a desert town once a mysterious woman becomes its obsession." (What a load of ...)

echoAugust 28, 2018 12:53 PM

@vas pup

US culture circles around push the product out then learn from the mistakes. One thing which has been putting me off the US over the past few weeks and months is swagger, and abusive and invasive marketing. In some senses I cannot trust US companies and retail to sell products which would break UK/EU style consumer law. The UK isn't without its faults either because of trying to do everything on the cheap and a head in sand pick up the pieces later mentality.

I don't want to live in a world where we spend the next century clearing up the disasters caused by irresponsible use of AI. We're still clearing munitions up from the last century!

As an addition societies which respect human rights and openness tend not to beat the drum of war and their porosity makes verification a lot easier. It's also a lot easier to be confident in trust building dialogue.

Like a lot of scientific fields and R&D it's easy to keep chasing the exciting stuff. Beyond a certain point it retreads over the same ground and becomes a thicket of convoluted stupidity when comprehension and understanding and quality are more important. This requires different skillsets and knowledge and often different people from outside of the immediate circle. A lot of scientists get this now but it doesn't seem to have penetrated the minds of some people in the military and computing spheres.

HmmAugust 28, 2018 2:07 PM

"But that's exactly the kind of thing that happens in reality, rather than this suggested "operational pause" nonsense. The vast history of human nature is contrary to this report's proposed future."

In as much as "the history of human nature" dictates what the US.mil does in response to a cyberattack...


albertAugust 28, 2018 3:06 PM

@Sofa,
Maybe he meant 'auteur'.
..

Re: hypothetical cyber attack:

I believe the military are more concerned with attacks on it's own cyber infrastructure. Modern militaries are high dependent upon computers and communications, point-to-point RF and satellite, as well as GPS. Beside nuclear, crippling these would seriously hinder or even stop military operations. Attacks on homeland infrastructure could be serious if successful. I don't think the major players would consider such attacks, but there are a lot of bad actors out there who might.

. .. . .. --- ....

Opening MoveAugust 28, 2018 4:59 PM

> Sailors stationed at the 7th Fleet' s homeport in Japan awoke one day to find their financial accounts, and those of their dependents, empty. Checking, savings, retirement funds: simply gone.

I should think that pissing off a whole fleet of enemy sailors to the point where they'd be seriously out for revenge would not be an intelligent opening move to a war. Not to suggest that there are any intelligent opening moves to a war.

tyrAugust 28, 2018 11:05 PM


Apparently Sun Tzu is no longer considered
part of an educated persons library.

Underestimating your enemy is the worst
path to take to defeat.

Try this scenario, China builds a city of
250,000 people staffs it with every bright
child who likes computers they can find.
This group is tasked with learning how to
take down all of the wests infrastructure
at once.
The west on the other hand lacks the man-
or girl power to do a similar project.
On the other hand they actively attack
and discourage smart people who might be
able to defend them in such an attack.

So on one hand you have a dedicated society
which has existed for thousands of years
and on the other a cobbled mess ready to
tear up its own founding documents over
active hatred of their fellow citizens.

It might help to build computers that
are not wide open to every script kiddy
who wanders by to replace the lovely
garbage Intel and Micro$oft have sold
the world.

Clive RobinsonAugust 29, 2018 1:06 AM

@ ,

This sounds like another example of infosec people trying to inflate their role by overplaying the damage computer attacks can do.

This is nothing new...

After all ask yourself why the US Government were spending twenty times the money on weapons than the next bigist spending country?

You don't get that rampant level of overspend without reason. The fact the US keeps telling NATO member countries they have to spend more money on weapons at almost every turn should also be ringing alarm bells in peoples heads as well.

It's all predicated on two issues "threat over estimation" and "defence under estimation". That is back in the "cold war" every fat lazy conscript cook in the Russian army was counted as a first class frontline soldier. Whilst only a subset of actual frontline US troops were counted as "frontline". There was a quite deliberate intelligence policy to muliply what was seen by spy planes and satellites by a ridiculous fact and to ignore contrary evidence.

One group of US people actually claimed that such a large overspend on impossible weapons for imaginary threats (star-wars) was responsible for causing the collapse of Russian (the real reason was rather more prosaic).

With the end of the cold war everyone expectrd and wanted defence spending to fall. But no it's actually increased, with new imaginary threats of impossible levels of death destruction and ruination. To be honest I'm waiting for the US Gov to claim that growing rice in paddy fields or similar is an existential threat to the US and thus go to war against rice farmers who feed around two thirds of the worlds population.

The point is there are no voices in the US saying "hang on a moment this is not defence we are spending on but only offence spending" with the ability to be heard.

What people should be asking is why the US Gov is wasting money on weapons of offence when it spends nothing on actuall defence.

The US is probably the most critically dependent nation on "High Tech" with probably the worst security for it there is.

How do I put this if you don't spend money on upkeep and maintenance on your home you expect it to suffer from the effects of entropy and rot away with time. Thus do you spend money on a can of paint and paint brush to do the necessary repairs or do you just spend money on Wrecking balls so you can knock your home down and build a new one every 18months or so? So fast in fact you can only jerry rig a new property with flimsy windows and doors that do not close to keep out the weather, let alone be actualy be securable... So you have no security, but worse because you have fallen into this crazy behaviour you go out and buy bigger and bigger wreaking balls to go and knock your neighbours houses down not just one by one but a whole block at a time just so they "have to live the way you do".

The US needs to rethink the way it lives in this respect and start spending money on actually producing secure infrastructure not jerry built fantasies that will just fail at the first gust of wind. But you won't hear voices saying that at appropriations time up on the hill, because thatvwould break to many rice bowls.

The US citizens were warned about the MIC repeatedly and ignored it. Now it's trying to get into every childs bedroom are the US citizenry doing anything about it?

Long answer short, No as long as there is beer in the cooler, pretzels on the counter, and cheap gas in the tank of the SUV in the drive...

As religion appears to play such a large part in US politics, there is a little quote from the King James Bible,

    Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

It's been revamped a bit in the New Living Translation,

    Don't be misled--you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Oh and then there is,

    Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.

Which is an amalgam of various parts of not just the Christian bible but the teachings of many contemporary faiths. It is part of the understanding of the three pillars of "Faith, Hope and Charity".

The cost of perpetually "being at war" especially when you start them on a contrived pretext, is not just body bags and tax dollars. Not even that the few use those gains to try to enslave the majority of their fellow citizens. No the real cost is "opportunity cost" to the whole of mankind.

To the rest of the world the US is looking more and more like a punch drunk bully that has lost the whit to realise that nobody realy wants to have it around creating trouble where ever it goes.

Clive RobinsonAugust 29, 2018 1:38 AM

@ vas pup, all,

How about hacking 'killer robots' as part of future cyber war?

I love this sort of "brains trust" get togethers because they nearly all have the same failing. That is they never ask,

    But what is XXX

If I said --from my point of view-- that medical implants will become the "shock and awe" 'killer robots' of a future supprise attack you might think "Where the heck did that idea come from?"

But seriously how many US citizens now have "cardiac pacers" installed with no security mechanism. How many US senior politicians have them fitted? What would happen if they all became hospitalized, and it became breaking news?

Likewise why attack the power generation plants that now have improved security, when attacking multiple "smart meters" that are not securable got "botted" and start causing "cascade failures" that are the "chain reaction of doom in most complex infrastructure".

They are not what most people would consider 'killer robots' but they would probably cause more death, injuries and mayhem without having to build any hardware...

The point is such 'Brains Trust' meetings have precoceaved notions that limit their viewpoint. Where as attackers just see "vulnerable systems" thus are not of limited viewpoint.

WeatherAugust 29, 2018 1:58 AM

@hmm
Normally country share biological virus and individual country make a cure and make the virus more deadly so they can then find a cure for that,as part of forward thinking, but I'm guessing that Americas recent stuff change the picture from defense to a weapon,natural China now treats the virus as national security, weapon export resections apply,like f-117 planes,which comparable to multiplier force,isn't so much with tactics,a escaped virus no ones fault,a stealth plane blowing up a power station,or a biovirus to incapacitated cilvins with planned release.
The space force part is a key to this as nukes had effect so space treaty's were formed to stop miltaration of space,to stop probable intercept ability, but space for energy cost can't really be projected below plane height to the ground,were something like a bio weapon can hide,shore america is saying China and Russia satellite are moving to close to there's, but that is why Australia has a wire 300km long heading south west of pinegap,apart from targeting Russian geo satalites above Russia matched frequency a exploding wire L shaped antenna would nock out there satellite.

vas pupAugust 29, 2018 9:17 AM

@Clive:
"They are not what most people would consider 'killer robots' but they would probably cause more death, injuries and mayhem without having to build any hardware..."
Great point! You change angle of vision and you see new picture/threats.

Sancho_PAugust 29, 2018 5:04 PM

@Clive Robinson, re your:

”The point is there are no voices in the US saying "hang on a moment this is not defence we are spending on but only offence spending" with the ability to be heard.”

The reason is they know it is offense spending, and it does make sense.
Our canoe is too small for all having our lifestyle, thus we have to reduce.
Defense is deemed not necessary with America first.

echoAugust 30, 2018 4:08 PM

@Mark Cancian

I am glad to see that the cyber war vignette in our study has engendered so much discussion. That was our hope.

And?...

WeatherAugust 30, 2018 5:22 PM

@humans
American has more friend in country, and out off 50 most are at the same paygrade,including Russia and China,faith wise,but you stood on a cat,
2-10years ww3 or bigger than Iraq,logic wise,deeply sorry to late now

Good luck

A Nonny BunnySeptember 1, 2018 2:24 PM

When this much shit hits the fan, nobody would doubt it was an attack on the US military. In response they'd probably just throw all their dirty laundry into the open and claim the shit hit that as well.

fajensenSeptember 4, 2018 3:10 AM

Cute-ish. But. They got the date, the players and the scope wrong, in my opinion.

This imaginary cyberattack is happening Right Now, Today, and Every Day.

The point of the attack is to fuel discord, racism, hatred, mistrust in government and authorities of any kind, to divide populations into manageable chunks according to race, gender and class. To breed suspicion of all technology of (computerised) kind. Every crack there is between people will be attempted wedged open by bots and human operators wielding propaganda mixed with verifiable truths. Every system there is will be abused and - when possible - turned against those it was supposed to serve.

Why?

That depends on the attacker, there are several opponents with different and sometimes conflicting objectives.

Some people are now so wealthy and powerful that the only barrier to them is the nation states and government apparatus, like laws and law enforcement. They resent this. They have their people work on propagandising the stupidity and futility of: Politics and anything to do with Government in order to reduce the influence and will to act of government. These are 'newcomers' to 'Club-0.001%': Similar people, who are already insiders, do their 'work' within the system through lobbyists and trade treaties. Russian Oligarchs will be a component in this group. Many of these took some 'family atomics' with them when they fell out with Putin.

Some nations and ideologies cannot compete in the world, mainly because they waste too many of their resources (human and fiscal) on authoritarianism and remaining in the past. They need to hamper the competition, levelling the playing field, by making others more like them (authoritarian, old-fashioned, stomping out creativity wherever it happens). Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, perhaps the UK, all fall into this category.

Some nations believe that they are very special and the world is basically there to serve their industries cheap resources and disposable people willing to work for nothing. Their intelligence services are always hard at work undermining or even physically destroying governments, states, organisations and people who disagrees.

Some nations are fully aware from talk and recent examples, that the very special nations will be coming for them too and want to pre-empt that in any way possible, without kicking off a direct confrontation, which they would lose.

The net result is that social media is a fuming cauldron of hatred, sucking up millions of man-hours on futile inflamed discussions. Hours that could have been used more effectively on improving ones station in life, maybe boosting sales, maybe actual politics, maybe just running and avoiding Type-2 diabetes. We have Nazis in the streets filming people, emboldened by their bot-followers no doubt (Probably funded by those same TLA's that also fund the Islamists for maximum 'divisivity', since I don't see these cunts holding down a job).

The government response is more authoritarianism, more surveillance, more money poured into 'intelligence' and policing; the cost of this 'security' is draining of 'future-creating' tasks like research, arts and healthcare.

Politically, nobody seriously talks any longer about what the country should become. It is all about what is lost and who is the most qualified party to hold onto the (mostly imagined) Golden Past.

This cyberattack is happening now, it is very effective, I think that civilisation is actually losing, badly. Unless this changes soon, evil social media bots will rant and rave over the placement and colour of the rubble!

Jeffrey DeutschSeptember 5, 2018 12:23 PM

but more likely, if it worked, it's because the dude actually did all that shit and really does deserve to go down.

You are mistaken. False accusations, unfortunately, have worked. It's just that we never know when they do.

I trust you've heard of false flag operations in general?

Jeffrey DeutschSeptember 5, 2018 12:25 PM

Keep in mind that this scenario involved a "zero tolerance" policy where adjudication of abuse allegations takes place while the accused is suspended as opposed to the reality of adjudication happening while the person remains in a position of power.

For better or for worse (probably both), that zero tolerance policy is the reality in many places today, especially in the US.

Leave a comment

Allowed HTML: <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre>

Photo of Bruce Schneier by Per Ervland.

Schneier on Security is a personal website. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of IBM Resilient.