Showing posts with label EMP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EMP. Show all posts

October 28, 2017

Deterrence Alone Is Not A Strategy

So there is a military doctrine that has been in place for decades. 

- MAD - Mutually Assured Destruction 

If you attack the USA with weapons of mass destruction, you'll get an overwhelming responses that will totally destroy your country. 

This was what supposedly held the USSR at bay during the cold war. 

And even recently, President Trump threatened North Korea that they would be "totally destroyed" if they try anything on us. 

The problem is that the MAD doctrine of deterrence assumes incorrectly that you are always dealing with rational actors and not with madmen.

Let's face it, their are plenty of crazies out there, and some of whom may be willing to go down in a "blaze of glory" as long as they stand up to the United States and die a heroes death for their radicalized or "subjected" people. 

Whether it's Iran or North Korea or others--we may not know what we are really dealing with here until it's too late. 

Life is not everything to these people--remember many a terrorist has died a martyrs death with the promise of 72 virgins in heaven awaiting them. 

To some, as Prime Minister Gold Meir stated:
"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us!"

Hate by virtue of perceived injustice, required Jihad or "holy war," brainwashing or threats and the desire for a "glorious death" standing up to the infidels or the "great Satan...any of all of these can contribute to ignoring the consequences. 

Israel has tried to deter horrible homicide bombers/and other mad terrorists from performing their evil misdeeds on the civilian population by for example, demolishing the terrorist homes as a potent consequence that they know going into it, yet many terrorists still wear the explosive vests and detonate anyway.

Similarly, North Korea despite the President's threat that they "will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," brushed it off and shot off more volleys of ICBMs and threatened to engulf Guam in fire. 

- The point is that deterrence alone is not a strategy!

If our enemies can hit us with a devastating attack--whether WMD, cyber, EMP, or quantum attack-- that can inflict immeasurable harm on us--they may actually choose to take their best shot, rather than wait for us to hit them or continue to feel disrespected, subjected, inferior, and hopeless.

To someone on the radical fringes or the mental edge, maybe--just maybe--they will do the unthinkable and surprise us.

What good will our fire and fury counterstrike do us, when our cities are in ruin and our people dead and dying en masse. 

Revenge isn't so sweet when your family, homeland, and virtually everything you know and held dear is gone.

The only real military strategy is to be able to defend ourselves and AVOID getting a homeland catastrophe!

We need massive investment and expertise in missile defense, bio defense, cyber defense, quantum computing, and expansive hardening of our critical infrastructure.

Unfortunately, as naysayers to the threats abound, we are no where near where we need to be in protecting the homeland.

If one person falls from the high wire and smashes their head, what good is it that the other person falls and suffers similarly or worse. 

The point is not to fall, not to get hurt, not to die, not to have our country and way of life destroyed.

Deterrence does not guarantee this security to the country--especially when dealing with no shortage of radicalized nuts out there. 

Only a genuine defense that can STOP and counter the threats BEFORE a devastating attack happens and hits us is a strategy worth pursuing ...and THEN you can punch the other person squarely in their devil's face!

Without an adequate defensive strategy, get ready, because every high flying act eventually falls to the ground and hits their head hard. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 19, 2017

Never Ever More Vulnerable

So we have never been more technology advanced. And at the same time, we have never been more vulnerable

As we all know, our cybersecurity have not kept near pace with our ever growing reliance on everything technology.

There is virtually nothing we do now-a-days that does not involve networks, chips, and bits and bytes. 

Energy
Transportation
Agriculture
Banking
Commerce
Health
Defense
Manufacturing
Telecommunications

If ANYTHING serious happens to cripple our technology base, we are toast!

From a crippling cyberattack that disables or hijacks our systems, steals or locks down our data, or creates massive chaotic misinformation flow to a EMP blast that simply fries all our electronic circuitry--we are at the mercy of our technology underpinnings. 

Don't think it cannot happen!

Whether it's Wannacry ransonware or the Equifax breach of our privacy data or the Kaspersky Labs hidden backdoor to our top secret files or North Korea threatening to hit us with an EMP--these are just a few of the recent cyber events of 2017!

Technology is both a blessing and a curse--we have more capability, more speed, more convenience, more cost-effectiveness than ever before, but also there is greater vulnerability to complete and utter death and destruction!

This is not just a risk that life could become more difficult or inconvenient--it is literally an existential threat, but who wants to think of it that way?

People, property, and our very society is at risk when our cybersecurity is not what it must be.

It's a race of defensive against offensive capability. 

And we can't just play defense, we had better actually win at this! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 14, 2017

We Broke The Weather

So my friend who lives in FL and recently experienced the crazy hurricanes down there said something very interesting to me. 

This was during the series of numerous recent hurricanes in just a few weeks period of time, including Harvey, IRMA, and Maria that devastated Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.

He said to me:
"We broke the weather!"

And after decades of warning about the impact of global warming--maybe he is right.

This last September was the most active month for Atlantic hurricanes ever on record. 

Further, we are seeing simultaneously the deadliest wildfires raging in California in its history. 

This only 13 years after the deadliest Tsunami from the Indian Ocean in recorded times killing about a quarter million people!

And only 28 years after the deadliest Tornado occurred in Bangladesh in 1989 that killed 1,300 people.

All these as if the increasing threats of nukes and other weapons of mass destruction and cyberattack weren't enough to keep you up at night.

As we get more sophisticated and technologically dependent, incredible manmade and natural disasters are threatening us superbig time. 

And over and over again, it is being reported that a well-placed EMP explosion over the United States would kill 90% of the population within a year--talk about a extinction level event!

As we experience temperatures15 degree above normal this fall, even the trees are behaving abnormally as the leaves are not changing to colors of yellows and oranges and reds and purples that we expect and enjoy. 

Nature is messed up by our abuse of the planet and nurture is messed up by megalomaniacs with the weapons to do us in. 

If we don't correct the dangerous path we are on polluting our planet and over-relying on technology then soon we could be turning horrible colors even if the leaves just fall to the ground or turn to ash. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 6, 2017

Driverless Cars - New Beginning or Part of The End

Driverless cars are exciting to so many.

But doesn't it also seem so boring?

There is a lot to be said for being the driver and doing the driving. 

We control the destination, trajectory, speed, etc.

Occasionally, there is even time to stop and enjoy the view. 

We've given up on doing or even knowing how to do so many basic things.

Probably 90% plus of us would fail at any sort of basic survival test. 

You can't hunt, you don't know how anything really works, and you don't even have a green thumb.

You'd be dead in under a week or max three

The only thing you do know how to do is sit at a desk, push papers, go to meetings, and post endless nonsense on social media--congratulations you're an imbecile!

When Axis of Evil North Korea, Iran, or Russia decide to hit us with an ICBM, EMP, or a massive cyber attack your gonna wish you knew something (anything) real, let alone how to drive a simple automatic. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 28, 2017

At The Doorstep...WMD

With a new threat again of a chemical weapons attack in Syria...

The U.S. is sending clear warnings to the Assad regime--Don't do it!

Generally, the threat of using weapons of mass destruction--chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear--have become all too blase!

- Syria uses chemical weapons on its own people. 

- Iraq used chemical weapons on Iran and the Kurds

- Terrorists used chemical weapons in Japan and have threatened similar in UK

- Russia threatens use of nukes over Crimea or in a conflict with NATO.

- North Korea threatens preemptive nuclear strike on the U.S. 

- Iran has threatened attacks on Israel over nukes.

- Biological weapons such as Anthrax have been used against the U.S. and bioterror has been threatened in India

This list is far from comprehensive--and how very commonplace this is becoming is exactly the problem!

It is one thing (already scary bad) to have weapons that can do the unthinkable, and it is quite another to actually use or threaten to use them in such blase fashion like taking out the garbage or something!

I would add that these days, we also need to add cyber attacks and EMPs to the threats of mass casualty and destructive events. 

If we don't ensure that cooler and more stable heads prevail at the notorious red buttons around the world, then the risk of someone eventually doing something very stupid and dangerous to millions--or even billions--of lives is no longer just in the realm of science fiction anymore, but becomes so very ominous and real a disastrous possibility. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 31, 2017

Always National Security

Here is a link to my short video on national security thoughts that keep me up at night.

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August 28, 2016

Preppers Preparing

A very interesting article in the Washington Post on the prepper movement.

People are concerned about the inaction, misdirection, and chaos of where things are going, and they are preparing for a potential post-apocalyptic America and world.


Grave worries seem to be coming from a multitude of concerns whether about an eventual bursting of the bubble of our national debt and the downfall of our economy and associated good jobs, an outbreak of ebola or a deadly influenza, a dirty bomb by Iran or North Korea, a cyber attack or EMP that takes out our critical infrastructure including electricity and anything with computer circuits, or a devastating natural disaster, many of which are considered "overdue."


The preppers are moving to the American Redoubt (pacific northwest--Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon.


They are buying and building defensible homes (bunkers and "fortresses"), stockpiling food, weapons, and ammunition, and preparing for life off the grid with water sources, solar farms, and secure storage.


While survivalists have always existed, the numbers of concerned, disaffected, and generally disgruntled citizens seems be growing exponentially along with prepper network shows, books, blogs, websites, and sales of survival gear.


Many people seem to either feel insecure, fearful, uncertain, or that we are simply going in the wrong direction, and that it is only a matter of time until there is some sort of major earth shattering, society destabilizing disaster, and not everyone will survive.


So from home shelters to luxury underground bunkers, preppers are putting their money and efforts where their mouths are, and are preparing for potentially the worst.


If as all agree that an important part of the government's job is to ensure the national security of the country, and protect life, liberty, and property, then something seems to be going very wrong that many people are feeling so insecure and unprotected physically and in terms of their human rights.


From corruption to divisiveness, dependency, and dirty dealing, communication and trust between government and the governed is being needlessly undermined.


Why can't we get some decent leaders with a solid moral compass, and a real plan to bring us back from forever walking the brink to a nation of strength and unity, prosperity and health, and a superpower not only today, but for the future, once again. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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February 25, 2016

Terrified Of Terrorism

Sure there are terrorism scares that are just hoaxes, and generally-speaking, we feel quite protected by our nation's values, wealth, and entrepreneurial spirit, by Homeland Security, and by being surrounded with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and our friendly neighbors Mexico and Canada. 

So we can be very assured--no fear, right?  That's what we need and want to function normally in every day life.

But perhaps behind the veil of daily bravado is a not-so subtle fear about something really bad happening again--whether a 9/11 or a San Bernardino or a Boston Bombing or anything in between or even possibly more extreme, including attacks on our critical infrastructure (via kinetic means, cyber attacks, or EMP weapons) or even attacks with WMD (from anthrax to nukes in suitcases)--there is certainly plenty of attack vectors, means, and bad actors. 

It was interesting-scary, the other day, there was a video circulating on Facebook of a "radical Muslim"-like character with a turban or something distinctive (I can't really remember) and carrying a backpack. In scene after scene, the character goes up to innocent bystanders and throws his backpack in their direction. The people didn't know him or what was in the backpack or why he was throwing it in their direction. Yet, over and over again, the people jumped up hysterically in fear running for cover like there was very possibly no tomorrow. 

Similarly, we watch on the news almost daily of terrorist attacks around the world--school attacks, beach attacks, restaurants and cafe attacks, theater attacks, grocery store attacks, house of worship attacks, funeral attacks, ambulance attacks...and there literally is no end to this list of what and who is considered a legitimate target by terrorists--we all are.

In the last couple of weeks, there was surveillance captured of Muslim women visiting a number of synagogues in Miami around the same time and asking questions suspiciously--could they have been staking these out for possible future attack, similar to the attack on a Jerusalem synagogue with butcher knives, axes, and guns that massacred people praying and in devotion to their maker?

In the last half a year, we have seen terrorism morph in Israel from volleys of missiles indiscriminately shot at cities, tunnels to attack and abduct, and suicide/homicide bombings to become up close and personal butcher knife attacks in the throat, chest, and back of victims old, young, man, women. Everyone who is available to kill is being called to martyrdom, even the most little children being indoctrinated to slash and thrust a knife into any unsuspecting victim. 

So as we listen and watch the goings-on in the world and we say to ourselves those attacks happen in Paris and London and Turkey and Ukraine and Libya and Tunisia and Nigeria and Yemen and Lebanon and Syria and Iraq and Kuwait and Pakistan and Afghanistan and India and Indonesia and and and...but not [so much] over here. 

We say it, and we hope it, and we pray it, but in the back of our minds we instinctively fear otherwise. 

So while panic is certainly not helpful, perhaps phony bravado is not what is really needed either, but rather a renewed focus, investment, and commitment to our security--with more gates, guns, guards, intelligence, and advances in technology to stop the next attack(s). ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Irina Slutsky)

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November 8, 2015

Internet Divide And Conquer

Remember in the old Western's when the Indians were about to attack the town, and before they rode in with knives and flaming arrows--what would they do?  

The Indians would cut the telegraph lines--no calls for help out, and no communications in--the town and its people were completely cut off.

The very next scene would be the slaughter of everyone in the town including a bunch getting scalped. 

How have things changed in the 21st century?

Not so much so, as the New York Times reports today on the constant threats to our underground Internet lines being cut--with 16 cuts to the lines in the San Francisco Bay area alone in the last year. 

Similarly just a couple of weeks ago, the media was reporting about the U.S. being worried about Russian subs cutting the undersea Internet cables.

But isn't the Internet built like a spiders's web (i.e. the World Wide Web) with redundant routes so that it can withstand even a nuclear attack?

Apparently, if you take out key Internet Exchange Points (IXP) or major international cable lines then the Internet can be seriously disrupted. 

Similar to the impact of an EMP weapon that fries our electronic circuits...poof no more communications. 

If you can cut off our core communications ability--then it's a simple strategy of divide and conquer.  

Divided we are weak and can't communicate and organize ourselves to either know what's going on or to effectively respond. 

Like sitting ducks in the Old West surrounded and cut off--it was a slaughter. 

This is why it is so critical that we not only build redundancy in the cable lines, but that we create alternatives like satellite Internet or Google's Project Loon for balloon Internet access.

It's not just the military, law enforcement, and emergency management not that needs to be able to communicate--we all do!

With excellent communications, we can unify ourselves and we are strong--but if we are left in the dark, then divided we fall. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 9, 2015

From Vintage to Modern Threats

Just wanted to share this short video captured of vintage fighter planes flying over the Washington Monument in D.C. on Friday, May 8.

This was in commemoration of 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. 

My father (A'H) used to tell me about when he was in England during the war and the Nazi bombers would fly over and carpet bomb them in a blitzkrieg.

This happened night after night, and so adaptive as people are, they sort of got used to the bombardment, if that is possible to say. 

After a while, instead of taking safety behind closed doors at home, people returned to go to the movies and dancing at night, even while the buildings next door were still being blown up--to the right and the left of them. 

In the morning, those who survived would get up, and see what was knocked down and what still standing. 

Hard to imagine living that way!

Now with new more destructive weapons (WMD, ICBMs, EMPs, etc.), we can only imagine that the destructive aftermath of WW II would be nothing in comparison to what a round III would be like.

It is crucial that we maintain our innovativeness and military superiority and not only offensively to defeat the enemy, but defensively so that we can stop whatever is coming at us whether a dirty bomb in suitcase, an ebola-type virus in an infected person or food, a drone carrying anthrax, or malware over the network.

We have come a long way in the last 70 years technologically, but the risk and stakes have also never been higher. ;-)

(Source Video: Minna Blumenthal)
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May 6, 2015

A Political Teddy Bear

Thought this was an awesome photograph.

Taken on the Washington, D.C. Mall...

You can see the Capitol of the United States in the background.

The gate is surrounding the construction being done.

On the fence is a Teddy Bear--representing so many of our national challenges--sort of just hanging there helpless.

This political bear looks like he's clutching for dear life, but unfortunately he is left hung out to dry as we just keep chugging away...but where is the real progress? 

- ISIS and radical Islam is still growing stronger.

- Iran continues building toward a nuclear WMD.

- China and Russia are "becoming [ever more] aggressive as they perceive U.S. pulling back."

- North Korea achieves capability for a "nuclear ICMB."

- Cyber insecurity is a "real and growing threat."

- There is a growing danger of a catastrophic EMP attack with a "staggering human cost."

- Immigration crisis remains in "limbo."

- Economic growth is "grinding to a halt."

- National deficit is "projected to skyrocket over next decade." 

- American economic competitiveness is in ongoing "slow decay."

- U.S. education "still lagging" significantly in science and mathematics. 

- Life expectancy in U.S. ranks 26th, "right behind Slovenia."

This doesn't mean that good things aren't continuing to happen especially with innovation despite all the gridlock...there is the Apple Watch (ok, the jury is still out on that one too).

Why don't we let the bear down gently please. ;-)

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)
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March 24, 2015

Hmm...A Nuke Deal With Iran--Just Ask Why?

Here are 10 simple points any reasonable person would ask about a Nuke deal with Iran:

HATRED OF AMERICA--THEIR ENEMY #1:


1) Iran, of the Axis Of Evil, considers "The Great Satan" (as they call America) their "number one enemy", they chant "Death to America," and even hang our President in effigy.


MURDERING AND THREATENING TO RAIN DEATH AND DESTRUCTION ON AMERICANS:


2) Iran threatened brutal attacks on America as well as on the President's family, and Iranian military documents endorse a devastating EMP attack on the United States

3) Iran says it will destroy the U.S. Navy, and destroyed a mock U.S. aircraft carrier in February!
4) Iran held our diplomats hostage for 444 days
5) Iran through it's proxy Hezbolah killed 241 U.S. Marines in the Lebanon suicide attack.

DENYING THE HOLOCAUST AND THREATENING ANNIHILATION OF ISRAEL:


6) Iran threatens to annihilate Israel.

7) Iran is a leading denier of the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were murdered just 70 years ago. 

THE WORLD'S LEADING SPONSOR OF TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES:


8) Iran is the leading state sponsor of terrorism worldwide.

9) Iran is the worst human rights offender in the world today.

ONGOING DEFIANCE OF THE WORLD ON NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION ACTIVITIES:


10) Iran continues to hide their dangerous nuclear activites from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), even as they profess cooperation, seek a lifting of sanctions and legitimacy for their nuke program. 


(All opinions my own)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to MEMRI via Fox News)

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January 21, 2015

Stop The Nuclear Threat

Before we get too rosy on the State of the Union...

Fascinating article in Forbes on the threat from nuclear armageddon. 

- The Russians nuclear missile survivability is improving with missiles "equiped with four warheads that can be independently targeted."

- Typical yield is 500 kilotons--"equivalent to half a million tons of conventional explosives."

- The impact of a single nuclear explosion is that it heats the targeted areas to a "few thousand degrees."

- If/when exploded over a major city, "everything within a one-mile radius is destroyed, heavy damage extends to three miles, and fires will be widespread out to five miles."

- People at ground zero will be annihilated immediately "by the blast effects or a wind-spread firestorm...(initial wind speed 700 mph)" 

- Those father from the epicenter will "linger longer before succumbing to the effects of prompt and delayed radiation."

- Due to the magnetic pulse, "electronic devices will be shut down for a hundred miles in every direction."

- How many long range nuclear missiles does Russia have? Over 2,000 (that are known)!

- Just 50, would leave every American city with over half a million people, "uninhabitable."

Now think about the Mullahs of Iran targeting, America, "The Great Satan," should they get this capability.

And do you think a Congressionally, bipartison endorsed, deadline-triggered sanctions on Iran should be vetoed or championed by the administration to stop this threat? 

May G-d bless us with the wisdom and strength of character to see through the delay tactics and subterfuge of our enemies and remove this real threat from us.

As to the Russians' strategic nuclear arsenal, we better get moving along on Reagan's Star Wars Strategic Defense Initiative--because 2,000 is a heck of a lot of incoming! ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CX15)
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August 13, 2014

Electrical Cataclysm

Warning from the former director of CIA in the Wall Street Journal...

We are grossly unprepared for an EMP attack on this country!

Dire reports from the EMP Commission from 2004 and 2008 have been "much neglected"!

The threat comes from nation states and terrorist organizations who can detonate a nuclear device above our skies by ICBM, SCUD missile (for example from a freighter near our shores), a space-launched vehicle that lifts satelittes into orbit, and even from low-yield nuclear weapons closer to home. 

Russia and China "have considered limited nuclear-attack options that...employ EMP as the primary or sole means of attack."

North Korea in 2012 orbited a satellite compatible with such a small nuclear warhead "for the delviery of a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the U.S."

Here's the clincher on the damage this could do to us:

"Within 12 months of a nationwide blackout, up to 90% of the U.S. population could possibly perish from starvation, disease, and social breakdown."

But for roughly $2 billion dollars we could protect the national electrical grid with surge arrestors, faraday cages and more. 

However, the bills to authorize this and protect us are stalled.

This is a known threat that our enemies are preparing for and what are we doing sitting on our hands, again? 

Or as the comedian Lewis Black says, "If we're going nowhere as a country, why can't we get there faster?"  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wil C. Fry)
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November 15, 2013

Survival Is More Than An iPhone

Please see a new article by Andy Blumenthal at Government Technology

We "need to learn ever new technology skills and simultaneously retain, old tried and true, core survival and self-sufficiency." 


This is a serious topic, and there will come a time when the lights go out and those who blend old and new skills will survive, while unfortunately, others who don't, will not. 


Hope you enjoy the article. 


Andy


(Source Photo: here with attribution to U.S. Army Africa)

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May 22, 2013

Blackout Nation

We are reaching an exciting but dangerous phase of technology adoption where our dependence is virtually complete. 

From mobile to social computing, from telecommunications to transportation, from industrial systems to electronic health records, from banking to eCommerce, from homeland security to national defense--we are dependent on technology.

But while technology proliferates everywhere, so do the risks. 

Bloomberg BusinessWeek (16 May 2003) in an article called "The City That Runs On Sensors" talks about how initiatives like IBM's smart-cities is bringing sensors and technology to everything running our towns--"Smart [city] innovation is improving our economic fabric and the quality of our life."

The flip side is an editorial in today's Wall Street Journal by former CIA director James Woolsey and Peter Pry who served on the congressional EMP commission warning how "A single nuke exploded above America could cause a national blackout for months" or years (stated later in article)

They write that "detonating a nuclear weapon high above any part of the U.S. mainland would generate a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse" (EMP)--and that this "would collapse the electric grid and other infrastructure that depends on it."

This would be a national blackout of epic proportions that would impact all areas for 21st century sustainment of 311 million lives. Think for yourself--what would you be able to do and not do without the computers and telecommunications that you use every day? 

Woolsey and Pry call for a preemptive surgical strike, for example, to prevent North Korean development of an ICMB capable of inflicting a nuclear EMP strike, but you can imagine other nations that pose a similar threat. 

While be beef up our Cyber Corps and attempt to strengthen our tools, methods, and configurations, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to securing cyberspace. 

Cybersecurity is more than just protecting us from malware infiltration and exfiltration--because the whole IT system that our society is built on can be wiped out not by cyber attack alone, but rather by collapsing the very electronic infrastructure that we rely on with a pulse of electromagnetic radiation that will fry the very circuits that run our devices. 

While we build firewalls and put up intrusion detection and prevention guards and establish a court system of antivirus and spamware to put away violators and so on, how shall we prepare for a pulse attack that can incapacitate the electronics underpinnings--security and all? 

"Star Wars" missile defense, preemptive action, and hardening of critical infrastructure are all security options--it costs money to keep the IT lights on, but better to pay now, then pay catastrophically bigger later. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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October 14, 2011

EMP Cybergeddon

Electromagnetic Pulses (EMPs) are the weapons of choice against electronics of all sorts, including cyber.

The Economist (15 October 2011) in an article called Frying Tonight describes how "warfare is changing as weapons that destroy electronics, not people, are deployed on the field of battle."

Here a brief summary:

During the Cold War, the notion was to explode an atom bomb high in the atmosphere (i.e. a High-Altitude EMP or HEMP) "to burn out an enemies electrical grid, telephone network, and possibly even the wiring of his motor vehicles."

Today, that principle is being applied in smaller weapons using microwaves---from powerful batteries or reactive chemicals that generate high-energy radio frequencies.

By zapping electronics, EMPs can take down enemy missiles, destroy command, control, and communications capability, and stop in their tracks everything from enemy tanks to planes and speed boats.

EMP weapons are already being deployed:

- Fighter planes are being developed with EMP capabilities using the active electronically scanned array (AESA) as defensive weapons against air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, while other planes (like the "Growler") are being outfitted with offensive EMP capabilities.

- Ships too are being armed with EMP guns to defend against high-speed boat "swarms" or to defend against pirates.

- Land vehicles will be armed with EMP cannons such as the Radio-Frequency Vehicle Stopper that can stall enemy vehicles' engines or the Active Denial System used as a heat-ray to disperse crowds.

At the same time, defenses against EMPs are being deployed, such as Faradays cages--which are enclosures of conducting material often in a mesh pattern that protects electrical equipment from getting fried.

What is important to note though is that EMPs are not just battlefield weapons--they can take out our everyday electrical and cyber systems.

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) Report to Congress (21 July 2008) called High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) and High Power Microwave (HPM) Devices: Threat Assessments states "Several nations, including sponsors of terrorism, may currently have a capability to use EMP as a weapon for cyber warfare or cyber terrorism to disrupt communications and other parts of the U.S. critical infrastructure."

The EMP Commission reported that EMP "creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences for national security."

One of the major concerns is the "cascading effects" that a loss of electrical infrastructure would cause in terms of people being unable to obtain basic life necessities and thereby resulting in that "many people may ultimately die."

The report finds EMP weapons to be an "attractive asymmetric option" for our adversaries, and that analysts find that "it could possibly take years for the United States to recover fully from the resulting widespread damage."

Therefore, it is critical that we increase our cyber security capabilities not only in terms of fighting conventional malware attacks from within the cyber realm, but we must be thinking in ernest about energy weapons directed at us from without.

We must continue to harden our defenses, invest in new technologies and countermeasures to thwart the enemy, develop punishing offensive capabilities, as well as prepare for the possibility of a strike against our homeland.

Although called "human-safe" (and aside from the traditional weapons of mass destruction), EMPs may be actually one of the most devastating weapons of all to a society dependent of technology.

(Source Photo: here)

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April 20, 2010

The Editable Society

If you’re using a book reader like the Kindle or iPad and are downloading books to read, they are just like real paper books, except that the written word is now dynamic and the text can be changed out.

Wired Magazine, May 2010, has an article by Steven Levy called “Every Day They Rewrite the Book.”

“When you are connected to an e-reading device, the seller does have the capability to mess with the content on your device, whether you ask it to or not.”

Mr. Levy tells how “people were shocked to discover this last summer when Amazon, realizing that it had mistakenly sold some bootlegged copies of George Orwell’s 1984, deleted all of them from customers’ Kindles.”

Since them, Amazon “notifies customers of an update to the book they purchased; if a buyer wants the changes made, the company will replace the old file with the new one. In other words, the edition you buy remains fixed unless you agree otherwise.”

Changes on the fly—with the owner’s consent—is a positive thing when for example, publishing mistakes get corrected and new developments are updated, as Levy points out.

I guess what is amazing to me is that things that we take for granted as always being there…like a book, a song, a document, a video, a photo are not static anymore. As bits and bytes on our computers, e-readers, iPods, smartphones, and so on, they are every bit as dynamic as the first day they were created—just go in and edit it, hit save, and voila!

Documents and books can be edited and replaced. Songs, videos, and photos can be cropped, spliced, touched up and so on. There is no single timeless reality anymore, because all the material things that is being digitized or virtualized are subject to editing—or even deletion.

On the one hand, it is exciting to know that we live in a dynamic high-tech society, where nothing is “written in stone” and we can change and adapt relatively easily, by just logging on and making changes.

On the other hand, living in such a malleable electronic wonderworld means that with some pretty unsophisticated and common tools these days, pictures can be doctored, books can revised, and history can be literally rewritten. For example, just think about how anyone can go on Wikipedia and make changes to entries; if others don’t cry foul and undo the revisions, they stick.

It seems to be that with the technology to quickly and easily make changes electronically, comes the responsibility to protect what is true and historically valuable. No one person should decide what is fact or fiction, a valid change or a distortion of reality—rather it is a mandate on all of us.

I think this is where the importance of democracy and things like crowdsourcing comes into play—where as a society we together direct the changes that affect us all.

It is a frightening world where files can erased or doctored, not just because your own work can be changed, deleted, or destroyed, but because everyone’s work can be—and nothing is long-lasting or stable anymore.

I may be particularly sensitive to this being the child of Holocaust survivors, where the notion of a world where holocaust deniers can just “edit” history and pretend that the holocaust never happened is a scary world indeed.

But also a world, where malevolent people like hackers and cyber terrorists or dangerous devices like e-bombs (electromagetic pulses or EMPs) can damage systems and storage devices, means that electronic files are not secure from change or erasure.

We’ve become a society where everything is temporary—our marriages, our jobs, our stock portfolios, our homes, and so on—everything is disposable, changeable, and editable. We have truly become an editable society.

We need to balance our ability to edit with the necessity to create order and stability, and like Amazon learned, not change out files at random (without notifying and getting permission).

In IT, this is the essence of good governance, where you plan a structure that can breathe and adapt as times change, but that is also stable and secure for the organization to perform its mission.


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