Dec 20 2008

Irony in a U.S. gov’t “cyberwar simulation”

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The U.S. government recently held a two-day “cyberwar simulation” (another name for a “tabletop exercise”). Reuters filed
a typical story about this event. In perusing it, the casual reader might think “the Obama administration should develop a reconstitution plan to survive an Al Qaeda cyber-attack.”

How much monetary damage did bureau­crats inflict in their “cyber­war simu­la­tion”? Did it come close to the $700 billion we shelled out to protect bankers from their own incom­petence?

And then the casual reader will move on to the next story and forget all about the looming death of this great country we’ve come to know & love. Tsk tsk tsk. What a pity.

That’s one of the nice things about computer security hysteria — even after all these years, the Cassandras still have no examples of computerized death & destruction. They’re reduced to making invalid comparisons to 9/11/01.

But this particular Reuters story struck me for its irony. Check out this snippet:

“Democratic U.S. Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island, who chairs the home­land security sub­commit­tee on cyber­security, said: ‘We’re way behind where we need to be now.’ Dire conse­quences of a suc­cessful attack could include failure of banking or national electri­cal systems, he said.”

Aha! Yes, of course. “Dire consequences.” Did a North Korean cyber-attack cause $700 billion in damages to the U.S. banking system? Did Al Qaeda cyber-terrorists cut electrical power to 1.25 million people in the northeast during this month’s deadly ice storm? Did a teenage hacker single-handedly cancel thousands of airline flights in the northeast during that same deadly ice storm?

This kind of irony forces us to ask three simple questions:

  1. How much economic damage do these bureaucrats think was inflicted in their ‘simulation’?
  2. How many people do these bureaucrats think suffered without power in their ‘simulation’?
  3. How many thousands of airline flights do these bureaucrats think got canceled in their ‘simulation’?”

Listen to me, folks. The U.S. doesn’t seem all too worried that a pervasive attitude of greed & incompetence in the banking industry added $0.7 trillion to the national debt. But boy oh boy, if a cyber-savvy enemy should attack our banking system, we’ll see the total collapse of capitalism! And the U.S. doesn’t seem all too worried about downed power lines in a deadly winter storm. But boy of boy, if a cyber-terrorist ever cuts power to our homes in the dead of winter, it will positively turn America into a third-world country!

And the U.S. doesn’t seem all too worried when thousands of airline flights around the country get canceled due to weather. But boy oh boy, if a hacker ever grounds thousands of jets, it will positively rape the U.S. air transportation industry!

Remember this when you hear about U.S. government “cyber wargames.”

Oh, I almost forgot — longtime readers will recall when virus expert Mary Landesman went through an ice storm. Her family survived without electricity and without Internet access for nine days. Heck, they didn’t even lose a finger or toe to frostbite.

But boy oh boy, if a cyber-savvy terrorist or soldier does the exact same thing to Landesman, her entire family will perish!

“Look at the frozen teardrop on this woman’s face,” a parka-clad cadaver retrieval supervisor will say. “She obviously realized the helplessness of her situation. She must have known she would have survived this cybertastrophe if only it had been just a major ice storm…”

  • By utterbackkNo Gravatar, 19 January 2009 @ 12:55 pm

    I love reading your take on disturbing subject matter, like this one, Rob. You always hit the nail on the proverbial head. Here’s hoping 2009 brings a little sanity to the “tables”, although it’s getting harder to harbor much hope.

    Hope you had a pleasant Holiday Time and will have a prosperous new year.

    your friend,

  • By patrickcurlNo Gravatar, 14 February 2009 @ 4:32 pm

    nice rob, nice~~

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