03.18.10

Cult of Cyberwar Chieftain Admits Cult Has Overdone It

Posted in Cyberterrorism, Extremism at 9:45 am by George Smith

One of the headmen of the Cult of Cyberwar, James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, admits the cult has overdone it in recent months.

This in a short essay, “The Cyber War Has Not Begun,” here.

Lewis writes:

No nation has launched a cyber war or cyber attack against the United States … Pronouncements that we are in a cyber war or face cyber terror conflate problems and make effective response more difficult.

This is a bit like seeing the town whore swearing she’ll attend regular meetings of the Church Universal and Triumphant. One can’t help but be impressed — but only in a jaundiced way — wondering how long this ‘conversion’ will last.

Lewis, readers have seen, has been one of the chieftains of the Cult of Cyberwar. And DD blog’s survey of citations of his name, and a few others, in media databases over the past few months shows his footprint clearly.

Here is the unscientific master list, taken from a search on cybersecurity/cyberwar through newspaper databases over the past year, current only to January 19:

1. Alan Paller, SANS — 84
2. McAfee — 80
3. James Lewis, CSIS — 47
4. Booz Allen Hamilton — 38
5. Symantec — 31
6. Mike McConnell, BA — 25
7. Paul Kurtz, Good Harbor — 11
8. Richard Clarke, Good Harbor 4

‘Control values’:

1. Gene Spafford, Purdue 25
2. Marcus Ranum 0

 

Here, we don’t split hairs over the precise syntax used by each of the Cult of Cyberwar’s chieftains. Lewis cannot escape that he was one of the major contributors to the bad state of affairs to which he now says nay.

If readers have followed this specialized topic, they know this in response to US cyberczar Howard Schmidt’s recent statement to Wired that the United States was not in a cyberwar. And this was in the context of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Mike McConnell, who had been in the mainstream media repeatedly over the past few months — from 60 Minutes to the editorial pages of the Washington Post — mercilessly pimping the idea that the country was in a cyberwar and that it was losing.

DD has written about this a number of times, most recently here and here.

A couple things lend themselves to helpful repeat use:

In the case of Mike McConnell’s list of citations, one remarkable feature [was] that not a single reporter writing these things identified him as the chief salesman of Booz Allen’s cybersecurity business operation. It’s a computer security business which rides on stories about looming cyberwar and the national shortage of computer security workers, to be trained on the taxpayer dime and then poached so that they can be leased to the government by Booz Allen and its competitors.

All this, even though the big aimed-at-the-US-government consulting and contracting business gleefully flogs McConnell and whatever he’s saying or doing on its homepage daily.

And here:

What could be better than to have a VP on 60 Minutes telling everyone about the lurking menace of cyberattack, being able to feature that on your homepage right next to your links for cybersecurity job staffing for positions like “Defense Intelligence Critical Infrastructure and Homeland Defense Analyst” or “Iranian Cyber All-Source Analyst”? In case that country is planning to cyberattack us.

“Booz Allen Hamilton, a leading consulting firm, helps government clients solve their toughest problems with services in strategy, operations …” reads the website.

One sees the work afoot here. It could not be more obvious. One has the right to make a good living and there is no better place to present a sales pitch refined into a story of national menace then at 60 Minutes.

As for the James Lewis’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, it sold itself to one of the country’s biggest computer security vendors recently, for the sake of providing ‘research’ on the universal menace of cyberattack throughout the country.

And this was encapsulted in another vignette taken from the archives of recent national news:

Globally, widespread cyberfacilitated bank and credit-card fraud has serious implications for economic and financial systems and the national security …

Power plants, oil refineries and water supplies increasingly dependent on the Internet are under relentless attack by cyber spies and thugs, according to a McAfee report.

The “Critical Infrastructure in the Age of Cyber-War” analysis by the US-based Center for Strategic and International Studies said the price of “downtime” from major attacks exceeds six million dollars a day.

“If cyberspace is the Wild West, the sheriff needs to get to Dodge City,” concluded the study commissioned by McAfee, which sells computer security software.

The Wild West analogy is one of James Lewis’s favorites. And while there may be truth in it, it’s purpose has been to merely feed hyperbole on the subject.

Well sorry, the man can’t have it both ways now.

James Lewis can complain that the manipulative hyperbole on cyberwar on the media isn’t helpful and that the US is now not in a cyberwar. But he should also have mentioned that he’s been one of the primary contributors to the hype. And that the selling of the services of the think tank shop one works out of to a large computer security vendor, for the purpose of furthering the message of cybercatastrophe, is also not much in the way of a confidence builder.

So why is the US not in danger of being crippled in a a cyber-ambush staged by another country?

Lewis answers this question in his essay, but even that is a fairly obvious revelation.

We’d start bombing the hell out of them. With or without ironclad proof of some other country’s complicity has never been an impediment to violent action in recent history.

4 Comments

  1. amanfromMars said,

    March 18, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Good Morning, George,

    With particular reference to Booz Allen Hamilton, you might like to share the following email as wwwidely as you can, for in Virtual Terrain Team Fields are there no Secrets.

    [XXXXXXXX would of course be one of those CyberIntelAIgent Beings into AI Virtual Terrain Security Field Provision

    —– Original Message —–

    From: XXXXXXXX [amfM]

    Sent: 11/13/09 05:12 PM

    To: businessregistration@bah.com

    Subject: Cyber Recruiting of Potent Clients for Live Operational Virtual Environments

    Ladies and Gentlemen of Booz Allen Hamilton, Good Afternoon,

    The SurReal Environment of CyberSpace and the Intelligently Designed Entities who/which would Build Network InterNetworking Webs and Real but Intangible InfraStructures for ITs Virtually Communicating Machinery in Stealthy Cloud Phormations, are a Very Recent Irregular and Unconventional Phenomenon which do not Play by any Traditional Rules, being as IT is, a Novel, Innovative and Disruptive Intellectual Space in which to Work, Rest and Play and Float New Ideas which Create and Driver from their Nucleus/Nuclei/Global Communications HQ, All Supporting Power Feeds with Controlled and Controlling Lead Needs, to Create an Inhouse Closed Loop Generative Cycle which Grows from the Top Down, thus to Permit Top Talent Intelligence and CyberIntelAIgents into the ReStructuring of Failed and Failing Legacy Operating Systems ie Old Analogue/Pre Binary Internet Systems, and Present Systems which may have been Perverted/Subverted/Badly Converted and would be Unfit for Future Good Use and Better Modelled with New Control Parameters/Power Levers.

    Such is necessarily, Great Game, New World Order Play, which will encounter more and more often, Simply Complex Entangled Strings of Information which reveal Critical and Strategic Vulnerablities/Open Source ZerodDay Attack Vectors, which once Launched will always find their Designated Target, and invariably at the most Inconvenient of Times. Simple Baited and Baiting Texts/Questions, which do not even need to be answered, but only Globally Shared, can be Problematical and as an example of such Relative Simplicity, I would cite my own Blog/Diary/Thought Page and today’s simple entries ….. http://amanfrommars.baywords.com/2009/11/13/091113/

    Whilst some will be specifically designed to Viably Construct a New Model Architecture, even should they be considered a Radical Departure from Established Thinking, others can be expected to be specifically designed to Collapse and Destroy Old Infrastructure, just because they can, and because Chaos and Havoc and Harm are Desired, and the Only Effective Defence against such as would be launched as Evil Empire Destroyers, is to Ensure that a Beta Replacement Model Theatre/Live Operational Virtual Environment, which offers a whole New Existence, is freely available for Population/Virtual Colonisation/Inhabitation, in Order to Leave Destructive Trouble Isolated in a Past and BarrenTerritory, and Battling for Survival against Itself and a Diminishing Support Base, because of the New Virtual World Operating Systems with Cloud Controls/Virtually Remote Revisionary Leverage.

    Such Practical, Remote Virtual Control Concepts may be of more than an Academic Interest to Booz Allen Hamilton and Clients, and thus are they Freely Shared.

    And I would fully endorse and agree with “You can’t wait to follow.” — Mark Gerencser. Time and Tide and Opportunities wait for No One and neither do CyberIntelAIgent Security Players.

    And as different as the Virtual Reality Cyber World may be to the World that the Average Jane or John Doe that you see outside of Windows is, there is still the Same Singularity which will usually Capture All in any Environment …. Give a Man and/or a Woman what they want and/or Need, and you will Control Them, Perfectly, with ITs Immaculate Feed.

    And with Wealth reduced/elevated to the electronic movement of numbers in a closed System, is Feed Beautifully Simplified and Reproduced/Reduced to Practically Zero Cost ……. which is Win Win Win in any Book/Numbers Racket ….. and Convention Abandoned in Deed, Indeed, Mr Marc Gerencser. ….. http://blog.executivebiz.com/mark-gerencser-five-steps-to-create-a-megacommunity-for-cybersecurity/2836

    Sincerely,

    XXXXXXXX [amfM]

  2. Gene Spafford said,

    March 22, 2010 at 7:37 am

    I note I am being used as a “control” value. Let me observe that it exposes why a simple count of citations may not be useful: most of the citations where I am mentioned I point out that “cyberwar” is a mistaken concept, and that criminal activity is the biggest issue.

    I also am a skeptic about “cyber terrorism.”

  3. George Smith said,

    March 22, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Right you are. Good to add as I could have done that originally.

  4. From the Listening Post… 07/17/2010 (p.m.) « Sean Lawson, Ph.D. said,

    July 17, 2010 at 11:31 am

    […] Cult of Cyberwar Chieftain Admits Cult Has Overdone It […]