It’s not often I scan down my Twitter interactions and get a well thought out and intelligently expressed question. But while sifting through the endless stream of trolls, threat-makers, provocateurs and social engineers, this morning a particular tweet from @gjukison jumped out and I feel compelled to reply. The original question from this clearly educated guy was refreshing:
From @gjukison to me:
For those unaware, the video this gentleman refers to can be found in my last post regarding how Anonymous, in my opinion, is ripe for infiltration by elements of terror. Please see this link and video therein to get a grasp of context.
From me to @gjukison:
The basic question you are asking is by the definition of a terrorist in the video are then the US and Israel not also ‘terrorists’ for collaborating on the STUXNET project which effectively shutdown and slowed the Iranian nuclear armament facilities?
Respectfully, and in my opinion, and I am aware this may sound cliche, but make no mistake we are at war here. It’s a new battlespace and a new AOR but it is happening right now whether we like it or not. It’s not a war where the ammunition is bullets and bombs. Iran are actively pursuing a route to arming themselves with nuclear weapons. This is in direct contravention to international investigations and sanctions by the United Nations Security Council. This makes them enemies or a threat to the international community, not just the US or Israel. This fact makes them ‘fair game’ for a pre-emptive, effective strike. In this case it was a cyber strike.
Flashback: We went into Iraq to search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, whether they were actually there or not is irrelevant and for another argument. Troops and servicemen and women on the ground were doing a job as ordered from upper echelons. That is what they do.
‘Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.’ – Tennyson
Imagine then if you will, if the technology and capability we have today, was available back then, there would have been no need to invade. We could have effectively switched off their capability to manufacture WMDs and be done with it. In my opinion, STUXNET represents the first real cyber weapon. This approach may save lives, or negate the need to send our troops into harms way.
STUXNET was at its heart – malware – much like any other. I am sure millions of us were and probably still are ‘infected’. The clever bit about it is that it was highly targeted. At least 2 conditions had to be met with regard to the machine it found itself sitting on before it went to work.
- Is the box I find myself sitting dormant on geographically located inside Iran?
- Is the box I find myself sitting dormant on running the SEIMENS SCADA software that is only used in nuclear plants?
If yes. Boom. (simplified).
Behind Stuxnet it is apparent that a meticulous intelligence effort was at play that for the first time in history has embraced the world of information technology in the design of what is considered the first real cyber weapon. According to several interviews with security specialist Ralph Lagner, considered the father of the Stuxnet experts, we are under attack and we have no idea of the potentiality of those agents that theatrically could remain in stealth mode inside the target, avoiding security systems for several years, gathering information and preparing the final attack.
So given that we have already identified Iran as a valid enemy of the international community, for contravening the ban on nuclear weapons as laid down by the UN, I for one am very satisfied in the knowledge that our government is pursuing war-fighting in cyberspace because it will cut down on the cost of war, and the loss of life of our boots on the ground.
Cyber Warfare capabilities are being developed by all major nation states, and we need to ‘get with the program’ in order to effectively conduct both defensive and offensive operations along with intellegence collection in this new theater of warfare. We will always need troops and boots on the ground, not all enemies have an infrastructure to target via cyber means and our homeland shores will always need defending. This is just a natural evolution, like when we moved from spears and rocks to flintlocks and cannons.
Thanks for the question. And thanks for not being a troll.
There’s an unequal amount of good and bad in most things, the trick is to figure out the ratio, and act accordingly.