Delusional? Imagining things? You must be on the cyberwar beat

Posted in Crazy Weapons, Cyberterrorism at 8:29 am by George Smith

Israel to neutralize Iran’s atomic projects through unseen cyberwar.

That was the implication of a Reuters story here.

It was yet again another example of the practice in which a journalist accepts uncritically anything he’s told by a small number of sources. Then the news agency runs with it because it sounds so cool and it’s a little short on Jacko pieces today.

In the late 1990s, a computer specialist from Israel’s Shin Bet internal security service hacked into the mainframe of the Pi Glilot fuel depot north of Tel Aviv.

It was meant to be a routine test of safeguards at the strategic site. But it also tipped off the Israelis to the potential such hi-tech infiltrations offered for real sabotage.

“Once inside the Pi Glilot system, we suddenly realized that, aside from accessing secret data, we could also set off deliberate explosions, just by programing a re-route of the pipelines,” said a veteran of the Shin Bet drill.

Of course, we’ve seen crapola about causing explosions remotely before.

“China could launch a devastating computer-run sabotage operation by attacking U.S. oil refineries, many of which are grouped closely together in areas of Texas, New Jersey and California.

“A [Chinese] computer attacker could penetrate the electronic ‘gate’ that controls refinery operations and cause fires or toxic chemical spills . . . “

This was back in 1999. It appeared in the Washington Times. And DD recapped it here on the old blog a couple years ago.

It wasn’t true then.

And common sense and a normal sense of skepticism would point you in the direction of it still not being so, for any number of reasons, like: the reporter was being lied to as part of an operation to make Iranians paranoid, relation of a story by a third party who was, in reality, recalling the equivalent of watercooler gossip and old wive’s tales, someone imagining grandiose things one can do with cyberwar because they’ve read it so many times elsewhere, etc…

The important truth test remains unfulfilled.

In national security affairs, extraordinary claims require extraordinary and substantive proof in support of them. Absent that, they’re just gossip. And ten or twenty or thirty people or sources repeating the same gossip does not automatically transform it into truth.

If you decide to discard such critical thinking, like the US, you get what later becomes obvious to all. You believe your own fairy tales, get yourself off to a disastrous war, receive years and years of rude and unpleasant shocks, and have your reputation trashed.

But DD digresses.

“To judge by my interaction with Israeli experts in various international forums, Israel can definitely be assumed to have advanced cyber-attack capabilities,” one person told Reuters. This was a fellow advertised as “director of the U.S. Cyber Consequences Unit, which advises various Washington agencies on cyber security.”

The US Cyberconsequences Unit is not a government agency. It is another of many small companies interesting in selling cyberwar and cybersecurity defense plans and consulting. It has one whole web page to mark its existence, not counting the contact form and confidentiality guarantee.

“Technolytics Institute, an American consultancy, last year rated Israel the sixth-biggest ‘cyber warfare threat,’ after China, Russia, Iran, France and ‘extremist/terrorist groups,” continues Reuters.

Like the forbidding US Cyberconsequences Unit, Technolytics is a small cybersecurity consulting shop, located in McMurray, PA. See a handful of press releases here.

At the end of the Reuters piece, the equivalent of the kook’s kitchen sink is tossed in, the electromagnetic pulse bomb.

“Jesus H. Christ!” DD hears you mutter.

DD covered this aspect of the EMP crazy story earlier this year. And that’s the part where the electromagnetic pulse bomb is a gadget of the US military. (One of the endlessly fine things about electromagnetic pulse crazy is that it works two ways. It can be the terrorist’s dream, capable of sending the country back to the time of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance with one mighty blow. Or it can be our weapon, capable of taking down the electronic infrastructure of enemies without shedding blood and smashing things to bits like we usually do.)

The electromagnetic pulse bomb — our flavor — is best described as the weapon that is always said to be coming and coming, it’s almost here now, it’s here (!), wait — no it isn’t, and — finally, nope, still not here.

Sometimes, however, electromagnetic pulse bombs or things said to be EMP bombs are dimly seen or tested. That’s been covered, too. Think of them as regular bombs with fancy parts/rubbish added on — with the fancy stuff designed to do the electromagnetic part not working so well.

Sadly, the electromagnetic pulse bomb is NOT in the building, ladies and gentlemen. In a news article, however, it is an indication that a journalist is grasping at straws.

For an encapsulation of why this is so, see here.

Reuters concludes:

“State of War,” a 2006 book by New York Times reporter James Risen, recounted a short-lived plan by the CIA and its Israeli counterpart Mossad to fry the power lines of an Iranian nuclear facility using a smuggled electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) device.

And everyone knows you just can’t call up reporters from the New York Times and say stupid mostly made-up shit to them and get it into print, right!?

“A massive, nation-wide EMP attack on Iran could be effected by detonating a nuclear device at atmospheric height,” adds Reuters.

Yes, shooting an ICBM at Iran bolt-out-of-the-blue, whether it detonates on the ground or in the atmosphere, would really be a fantastic thing, marvelled at by all worldwide.


All our friends want the bomb that’s never quite here. According to the Korea Times:

“The South Korean military will have an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb in five years that is capable of crippling an enemy’s command-and-control, communications and defense radar systems.

“The state-funded Agency for Defense Development (ADD) plans to complete the development of the bomb by 2014, agency officials said Tuesday.

“EMP offers a significant capability against electronic equipment susceptible to damage by transient power surges …”

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