Preparing for Cyber Warfare
Preparing for Cyber Warfare by Northwoods Prepper
As a regular follower of this blog, I, and as I imagine most readers, are very familiar with the results of an EMP. This is one of the most discussed topics in the survivalist blogosphere, for good reason. Electricity brings all of us a much easier life, and to prepare for the loss of such is difficult both physically and mentally, not to mention costly. With my electronic devices, those that I continue to use daily, my preparations lie between letting them become paper weights with the effects of an EMP to properly protecting those that are of value and having back-up copies of important documents (electronically and physically). From my understanding of an EMP or a similar event, like a strong solar flare, my limited preparations on this front should protect my key data with some devices reverting to expensively purchased junk.
What I had failed to take into consideration is the breakout of cyber warfare. An overview of the nature of cyber warfare is warranted, although before I start I would like to say my knowledge of such is limited. The majority of my previous knowledge came from corporate cyber attacks. However, I just finished reading Richard Clarke’s 2012 book Cyber War: The Next National Threat and What To Do About It Richard Clarke is the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism for the United States. Clarke worked for the State Department during the presidency of Ronald Reagan and has a good understanding of this subject. This book is an enlightening read (although politically slanted towards Democrats), and while I wanted to highlight a couple of key points it does not make the leap to the potential impact of the average individual. To summarize, cyber warfare is the directed attack against a nation from one or other nations or other collected rogue groups (such as ISIS or Anonymous). These attacks will take many forms, including denial of services, theft of knowledge, turning off critical infrastructure, and sabotage, but all of it will be the result of technical interference to our extremely wired world. Another good summary I just found yesterday is online.
At this time, the government is frantically trying to keep the genie in the bottle and has regular cyber attack exercises:
While the government is working to protect themselves and critical infrastructure, such as utilities and banking, the average citizen must rely on commercially available security and the Geek Squad at Best Buy. Many of these attacks will not be emanating directly from the foreign enemy but from Trojan programs, such as Logic Bombs, already implanted in domestic computers and similar devices, including all of the ones that we individually own. (Even if you claim to be off grid, you are reading this post somehow on some device.) These programs are implanted through multiple nefarious means from participation in websites, email, and every sort of inter-connectivity to the Internet.
The threat that I found more surprising is the self-destruct programs that may potentially be implanted in devices as well. Many routine household devices– phones, security, and appliances– and automobiles are becoming connected to the Internet. While this allows the usefulness of these devices to be increased, such as the ability to check your home security while out of town or something as simple as preheating your oven on the way home from work, there are also significant security breaches that are very rarely mentioned. Mr. Clarke provides an excellent, and from his understanding a completely feasible, example regarding cyber warfare. Imagine a copier within a company, which is bidding on a job. The copier, through an illegally implanted program using basic recognition software, is sending copies of any document with specific wording referencing the job off-site. At a certain point, those who are stealing the information believe they have enough to sabotage the bid and then send directions to the machine to overheat and start a fire with secondary effects of setting off the sprinkler system or worse.
In my limited dealings with cyber attacks, it is well known that hackers can penetrate and disable equipment from remotely operating someone’s camera to tapping into the electrical grid and other utilities, creating an EMP-like event. It has been also proven that many foreign organizations, most noticeably China, has made a concerted effort on corporate espionage and has been routinely stealing secrets. A good example of this is the Sony hack in 2014, where hackers demanded Sony’s release of the comedy film The Interview because the main plot was to assassinate the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un. This hack was a wake-up call to the impact that nation states can have on cyberspace. It is disturbing to say the least.