The pages of the Wall Street Journal have been employed in a recent campaign to make patsies of the hacking group, Anonymous.
If the hackers turn their attention to disruption and destruction, as some have threatened, they are likely to find the controls for electric power grids, oil pipelines and precious water systems inadequately secured. If a hacker causes real physical damage to critical systems in that region, it could quickly involve governments retaliating against each other with both cyber and conventional weapons.
Obviously, this is meant to sound very serious. If hackers, by implied extension — Anonymous, could do such things it’s time to get ahead of the curve and declare them an existential threat to the country.
Anonymous is many things: Audacious. Adept with publicity. Very troubling to some segments of establishment America. (Kind of like OWS.)
However, an existential threat to the United States isn’t one of them. But there’s certainly money in trying to make people believe it.
Clarke is a 1 percenter and his fortune has been in cybersecurity.
[But lately Richard Clarke has] spent much of his time on cyber security through his consulting practice Good Harbor Consulting, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, an upcoming book and the boards of two venture-backed security start-ups …
Q. Why are you joining the board of Bit9?
[Clarke]: Standard solutions that people have used for years — firewalls and antivirus — are still needed, but not sufficient. I’ve seen companies where advanced persistent threats had gotten through and companies where they hadn’t gotten through. The difference turns out to be Bit9.
A few days ago the Wall Street Journal’s news section ran an article in which the National Security Agency’s Gen. Keith Alexander reinforced the hackers will try to take down the grid meme:
Despite National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander’s reported concerns that the Anonymous hacking group might try to attack the North American power grid, experts consider such a scenario to be extremely unlikely and Anonymous spokesmen dismiss the whole idea as “ridiculous.”
In an article in today’s (Feb. 21) Wall Street Journal, reporter Siobhan Gorman writes that Alexander, in private meetings at the White House, has said Anonymous “could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack.”
Of course, it is — as usual — completely unnecessary to provide any bolstering evidence for such a presumption.
I was polled. So cutting to it:
George Smith is a senior fellow at GlobalSecurity.org. He told SecurityNewsDaily that not only has Anonymous never threatened an attack like the NSA claims, but that if such an attack were possible, it would have happened already.
“Talk is cheap in cyberspace,” Smith said. “Restraint, however, is not. If someone could have easily done this — and they can’t — they wouldn’t have been able to resist doing it just for bragging rights.”
Smith said hackers have always bragged about “being able to turn out the lights,” and the imagined threat has become a talking point for politicians and lawmakers.
“People who talk about cyberwar and what can be done have abused this one for well over a decade,” he said. “I have materials in my files predicting the lights will be turned out that are well over ten years old.”
One of the central features of cyberwar/cyberattack scaremongering is argument from authority. Us officials have abused it for personal and political agendas for well over a decade. In the process, they’ve destroyed any legitimacy, relying totally on fantastic and apocalyptic claims, never backing anything up other than with assertion one had better listen up because very important people are all repeating the same thing. Noam Chomsky called it manufacturing consent. Now it’s gulling the rubes for personal gain.
This has resulted in a repeated mythology rather than a serious body of thought and debate people would do well to consider. As far as mythologies go, it’s a technical one, its legends — that the power grid will go down, that water will be contaminated, that the financial system will be corrupted (the latter is particularly atrocious in light of reality) — unique to our national circumstances.
It’s ripe for exploitation and that’s just what our authorities do with it in the fear-based economy.