Power’s out. You flick the switch repetitively, still nothing. Your little clock radio is blank; you glance at your cell phone to check the time as you go to the closet. Hopefully you won’t be late for work … “No Signal.” You grab your robe and head down the hall, walking a little quicker now. Daylight is breaking, but the house is dark, the appliances dead.
The muffled sound of your neighbor’s backup generator makes its way into the foyer, so you walk over to see what the news is. Eight network channels, all static—except for two that appear to be airing reruns. Your neighbor looks worried.
You remember your car’s on empty. Whatever is going on, it couldn’t hurt to fill up your tank before people panic and start rushing the gas station. You walk back across the dewy yard, lift the garage door and drive to town, still in your pajamas and robe, wet grass clippings clinging to your feet.
Ten minutes later, you’re in a gridlock parking lot in the middle of the street—still a block and a half from the pumps. It turns out you aren’t the only one who’s worried about gasoline. You flick on the radio, now anxious to know what’s going on. More static. Finally: “Parts of the Eastern Interconnection power grid are failing this morning …. Servers for several news organizations appear to have been abruptly knocked off-line …. Rail, port and air traffic control network computer systems are experiencing glitches …. Numerous banks have temporarily suspended their electronic operations …. Reports are coming in that the Pentagon may have suffered a large cyberattack; some systems have been compromised, others are shut down to contain security breaches ….”
How the rest of this day ends is up to your imagination.
Hidden Danger equals: Digital Underground
The birthplace of the Internet, the United States, is one of the world’s most well-connected nations. Millions of Americans and other Westerners in households, businesses and government agencies use the Web to communicate, do business, transact, administrate day-to-day operations, control infrastructure, monitor world news, research, learn, navigate, shop and socialize. Even infrastructure and government functions, including the United States military, rely on the network. Time- and money-saving network solutions define your world. That’s the good news. And the bad news.
Beneath the everyday hum of businessmen, students, bankers, typists, graphic designers, web programmers, network administrators and other Internet dependents that you can see lies a digital underground that you can’t. In the same way the real world has an illicit and unseen criminal underground, human nature plays out the same way online. Below the global online community’s slick and shiny interface is a world of code—the gears inside the clock. To you, it would look like gibberish, but programmers can read and write it. So can hackers.
Although some use their expertise for benign or even constructive purposes, generally speaking hackers are programmers who use their knowledge of coding and programming to engage in illicit activities ranging from simply viewing sensitive material and playing practical jokes to blackmail, theft and sabotage. In some cases, hackers have brought down business websites, and security programmers have been helpless to restore service. The sites only went back online when the businesses paid their attackers to stop.
Software makers and online security companies are constantly reacting to these threats with “patches” that cover up one vulnerability while hackers move on to find others.
Right now, hackers around the world are writing programs that are searching for unprotected areas of code, finding them and silently slipping past security. Then, they use their imaginations: recording the keystrokes of unsuspecting users, crashing programs, overloading websites, ripping off passwords, stealing account numbers—constantly, silently, anonymously. And their reach increases every time a new computer plugs in.
If you buy a computer this evening, bring it home and plug a network cable into it, chances are it will be compromised within five minutes. You won’t know it, but automated hacker programs will already have found your computer and begun diverting some of your processing power and using your computer’s identity to mask their own activities, which include sending unwanted e-mail advertisements, overloading targeted servers and taking over yet more computers. Constantly updating your antivirus software will help keep incursions to a minimum, but there are no guarantees. In fact, some initial network security downloads take longer to install than it takes for a hacker’s program to penetrate your system.
Generally, hackers aren’t necessarily able to read your e-mail or steal your files. That typically occurs only if someone targets you directly. But when that happens, usually to a larger organization, hackers can be in and out with the information they want and without leaving a trace in under 20 minutes. Or they can disrupt, falsify or outright destroy it.
The New Battlefield equals: Cyberwar
That’s cybercrime, instigated by a largely unorganized group of hackers with varying skills and motivations. But what about all-out cyberwarfare? The potential effects are much more catastrophic. This Internet underworld is the 21st century’s newest battleground.
China, Russia, even Islamist terrorists are beginning to wage a new kind of war here, in an environment where a desktop computer can put your agenda on a level playing field with the world’s only superpower. It’s a cheap, powerful equalizer. And when it comes to the havoc a cyberassault could bring, especially when coupled with a real-world attack, there’s nothing virtual about it.
Case study: What happens when you combine a well-connected, Internet-dependent nation, a hostile enemy, hacker mercenaries and an unpopular political decision? You get Estonia. Surprisingly well-connected, Estonians use the Web heavily in everyday life: for their banking transactions (almost all of them), communications, news, shopping, reservations, theater tickets and more. There, Internet access is legally considered a human right; even parliamentary votes are conducted online.
In April 2007, the government relocated a Soviet-era statue, infuriating ethnic Russians inside and outside of Estonia, as well as the Kremlin.
Within 24 hours, hackers began probing Estonia’s online defenses to test their limits. Then, they blasted key computer targets with information overloads. Parliament’s e-mail crashed, websites for major political parties were hijacked, and a counterfeit letter appeared from the prime minister apologizing for removing the statue. Then, hackers began overloading routers and switches across the country. Two major banks had to shut down operations, losing millions, and half of the nation’s news outlets were knocked out. Most servers had to be disconnected, and the rest were so busy trying to protect themselves that Estonia’s Internet in essence stopped functioning.
After more than a week of crippling cyberattacks, the assault subsided and Estonian online security officials along with foreign experts were able to restore service. They also traced some of the machines used in the attack back to Russian government offices. Moscow denied involvement, and the government machines themselves could have been compromised and controlled by hackers elsewhere, but the lesson remains: Do not underestimate the real-world power of hackers in large numbers.
Target equals: America’s Achilles Heel
The Pentagon doesn’t. Every day, its electronic defenses take hits from hundreds of cyberattacks, some of which have been successful. Since 2006, the virulence and volume of attacks have surged dramatically. Electronic attacks on the Department of Homeland Security have tripled over the last two years, and those on military networks have increased 55 percent. One former high-ranking national security official called it “espionage on a massive scale.” In June 2007, an assault forced the Department of Defense to take as many as 1,500 computers offline, downing the Pentagon’s unclassified e-mail system. In other cases, top-flight military units have been hacked, and the Pentagon’s network vulnerabilities, detailed maps of Department of Defense facilities, and U.S. military war plans have been posted on the Web for the world to see. In 2007, a breach at the State Department put cia agents around the world at risk.
Perhaps the most worrying trend is that numerous attacks appear to be coming from foreign nations that are enemies of the United States, particularly China and Russia, as well as locations in Europe. In early June, congressmen reported that hackers in China have cracked multiple computers and accessed sensitive information inside the offices of American lawmakers, right on Capitol Hill. This has been going on since 2006. BusinessWeek reported that from 1998 to 1999, hackers stole large amounts of unclassified information from the Defense Department, nasa, the Energy Department and numerous weapons labs (April 10). The destination for some of the data was inside Russia. In 2004, hackers thought to be in China stole classified data from defense contractor Lockheed Martin, Sandia National Labs and nasa. Last year, China struck again, as reported by BusinessWeek: “2007. A new form of attack, using sophisticated technology, deluges outfits from the State Dept. to Boeing. Military cyber security specialists find the ‘resources of a nation-state behind it’ and call the type of attack an ‘advanced persistent threat.’ The breaches are detailed in a classified document known as an Intelligence Community Assessment. The source of many of the attacks, allege U.S. officials, is China. China denies the charge” (ibid.).
The U.S. administration recognizes the gravity of the cyberthreat and is spending tens of billions of dollars to defend against it. But those who are trying to protect the nation’s security online face a mountainous task. There are a multitude of government and military agencies trying to fight cyberwarfare that must coordinate with each other as well as with the private sector, all the while tiptoeing through a maze of legal and bureaucratic red tape that restricts military and cyber security enforcement, but which hackers don’t think twice about. In comprehensive cyberattack simulations such as Cyber Storm i and ii—in which the private sector disclosed attacks quickly and yielded to a higher authority, unlikely advantages in a real-world situation—the results are typically failures.
Then there’s the sheer volume of information the U.S. has to protect. The Pentagon alone uses millions of computers on tens of thousands of networks at hundreds of sites in dozens of countries. In addition to this, U.S. defenses are tied to hundreds of private sector defense contractors. Beyond the defense establishment, hackers can and have also targeted other essential national infrastructure: electrical grids, banks, transportation systems, news networks, government agencies and important businesses.
These contractors have weapons systems and other critical secret data stored on their networks that must also be secured. Inevitably, some systems are older and more vulnerable to sophisticated new viruses, while others are improperly administered. Even up-to-date systems totally miss cleverly disguised viruses, allowing attackers to track keystrokes, take screen shots and suck out loads of information. Hackers say there’s always at least one machine unprotected. And it only takes one.
Add all this to the fact that cyberwarfare favors the attacker. The defender must always react to the assailant, who chooses the time, place and method of the attack, which is always cloaked with anonymity, could inflict virtually unlimited damage, and can be waged by as few as one person located anywhere in the world at any time. All for less than the price of one m-16.
For the sprawling, mighty United States and its military, it is a starkly naked Achilles heel. This is the one thing that could easily and rapidly bring the nation to a standstill.
The more well-connected and technologically capable we get, the more vulnerable we are.
And the West is constantly getting better-connected.
In doing so, the military necessarily must tie its systems to civilian systems, where infections are even easier to start and spread. Budget-minded planners have also opted for off-the-shelf network security products and even security software developed in foreign nations. The U.S. Army’s advanced Future Combat Systems project makes soldiers even more dependent on the network.
Answer equals: USBIP
If independent, oftentimes teenage attackers motivated by ideologies as simple as voyeurism and resentment for authority have caused and can cause so much trouble, what happens when unified, ideologically motivated terrorists and enemies with the resources of a nation-state really begin pouring it on? Estonia would be merely a trial run.
A targeted and sustained assault on just a few of the nation’s key infrastructures—some of our already-faltering financial institutions, for example—could disrupt our economy, explode investor confidence and kill the dollar. Cyberassaults on oil and energy information systems could spike fuel prices. Attacks on transportation infrastructure could delay, diffuse and disrupt the nation’s economic bloodstream. Resultant fuel, food and energy shortages could spark widespread crises and even riots that would cost billions of dollars and possibly hundreds or thousands of lives.
But outright attacks on our military’s networks, especially coupled with infrastructure damage and resulting civil upheaval, could be nationally deadly. The most advanced military in the world relies on the most complex information systems to sustain an unprecedented and ultra-complex organization of logistics. Should those systems malfunction before or during a time of national crisis, ammunition could arrive late, units could be assigned incorrectly, helicopters might never deploy—and, worst-case scenario, some of our own weapons could conceivably be retargeted.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has monitored this vulnerability since January 1995: “America is the greatest superpower this world has ever known. But we have a very vulnerable point in our military—our own Achilles heel. … Exploiting this vulnerable point may trigger the greatest shock in the history of warfare! … Computer dependence is the Western world’s Achilles heel, and within a few years this weakness could be tested to the full.”
As the basis of his analysis, Mr. Flurry pointed to a key Bible prophecy that might be fulfilled in part by cyberwarfare: “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, also, thou son of man, thus saith the Lord God unto the land of Israel; An end, the end is come upon the four corners of the land. … They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof” (Ezekiel 7:1-2, 14).
Even though the modern nations of Israel, including the U.S., Britain and the Jewish nation, sound an alarm of impending attack and expect their mighty armed forces to respond, “none goes to battle.” There are a variety of ways the immediate future could play out, but one thing is certain to happen: Ezekiel 7.
God has revealed these future events—as well as ultimately good news for our nations. To learn more about America’s vulnerabilities and its immediate future, request, download or read online at
theTrumpet.com Herbert W. Armstrong’s book that contains the answers to these problems as well as the awe-inspiring hope for our future: The United States and Britain in Prophecy. •
Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf
August 11, 2008, 10:37 AM (GMT+02:00)
New America armada around Iran
DEBKAfile’s military sources note that the arrival of the three new American flotillas will raise to five the number of US strike forces in Middle East waters – an unprecedented build-up since the crisis erupted over Iran’s nuclear program.
This vast naval and air strength consists of more than 40 carriers, warships and submarines, some of the last nuclear-armed, opposite the Islamic Republic, a concentration last seen just before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Our military sources postulate five objects of this show of American muscle:
1. The US, aided also by France, Britain and Canada, is finalizing preparations for a partial naval blockade to deny Iran imports of benzene and other refined oil products. This action would indicate that the Bush administration had thrown in the towel on stiff United Nations sanctions and decided to take matters in its own hands.
2. Iran, which imports 40 percent of its refined fuel products from Gulf neighbors, will retaliate for the embargo by shutting the Strait of Hormuz oil route chokepoint, in which case the US naval and air force stand ready to reopen the Strait and fight back any Iranian attempt to break through the blockade.
3. Washington is deploying forces as back-up for a possible Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.
4. A potential rush of events in which a US-led blockade, Israeli attack and Iranian reprisals pile up in a very short time and precipitate a major military crisis.
5. While a massive deployment of this nature calls for long planning, its occurrence at this time cannot be divorced from the flare-up of the Caucasian war between Russia and Georgia. While Russia has strengthened its stake in Caspian oil resources by its overwhelming military intervention against Georgia, the Americans are investing might in defending the primary Persian Gulf oil sources of the West and the Far East.
DEBKAfile’s military sources name the three US strike forces en route to the Gulf as the USS Theodore Roosevelt , the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Iwo Jima . Already in place are the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea opposite Iranian shores and the USS Peleliu which is cruising in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
MUST SEE - GO TO
On Sunday, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu met with the spiritual leader of the Shas party and warned him that Kadima intends to sell off parts of Jerusalem—“even to our worst enemies.” Shas, which plays an important role in keeping Kadima’s coalition together, is the ultra-Orthodox party that currently fills 12 seats in the 120-member Knesset. Without Shas, Kadima would lose its majority, increasing the possibility that Olmert’s September successor would not be able to form a coalition, which would force a general election sooner.
Whatever happens, the political soap opera is bound to attract intense media coverage, as John Gizzi points out at Human Events.com: “Syria was bombed by Israel last year to stop development of a nuclear facility allegedly built with North Korean help. The Gaza Strip bordering Israel is now ruled by the militant Palestinian faction [known] as Hamas. So the coming change in Israeli government takes on a new dimension. And if an election is to be held, it is likely to attract as much interest worldwide as that for president of the United States this fall.”
Headed in Wrong Direction, Survey Says
According to a recent survey, 60 percent of Israelis believe their nation is headed in the wrong direction. Last year, the figure was 74 percent.
The same survey found that Israelis believe their nation’s internal corruption is just as dangerous as the threat of terrorism from beyond its borders, particularly from Iran. “Israel’s leaders have been spending a lot of time speaking about the threat of Iran and about security issues like terror, but they seem to be missing a large part of the population,” the director of the survey said.
A large majority of Israelis believe they are on the wrong path and have lost confidence in their leadership to correct their course. With an Iranian bomb looming large on the horizon, could Israel’s internal corruption and division have come at a worse possible time?
Terrorism’s New Front
We linked to this story earlier this week because of how closely it mirrors what we have been saying in recent weeks here, here and here. According to Martin Sieff’s piece on Human Events.com, the U.S. government and the American media are blind to the new front that has opened up in the war against terrorism: Jerusalem. In the two bulldozer attacks this summer, only the barest of background facts were discussed in news reports, implying that the attackers were disturbed loners.
“The reality is very different,” Sieff writes. “Both attacks have to be seen in the context of a slow but steady escalation in terrorist violence against Israeli civilians and security forces over the past few months within Jerusalem itself.”
Sieff highlights several disturbing patterns that are beginning to emerge on the Jerusalem front, including this one: Instead of attacking much easier targets in East Jerusalem, all three major attacks this year have taken place on the more heavily secured and Jewish-populated western side. Why, if these are just random attacks?
He brings up several important points. Read the whole thing here.
In what amounts to a veiled threat, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has criticized Israel’s recent prisoner exchanges—not because he believes the terrorists should still be in jail—but because he says Israel only releases prisoners when pressured by terrorist groups.
Hoping to ease his peace partner’s “concern,” on Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to release 150 Palestinian prisoners as a “goodwill gesture to President Abbas.” •
Bush Can Take Another Look Into Putin's `Soul': Frederick Kempe
Commentary by Frederick Kempe
June 6 (Bloomberg) -- By his own account, U.S. President George W. Bush looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes ``and saw his soul'' during their first get-together in Slovenia three months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Russian Troops Seize Military Base In Georgia... Swarms Of Russian Jets Bomb Georgian Targets... US Flies Georgian Troops Home From Iraq... Russia Rejects Georgia Cease-Fire... Georgia's President Asks For Help In The Wall Street Journal
Georgia does not act militarily without the assent of Washington.
The Georgian head of State is a US proxy and Georgia is a de
facto US protectorate.
Who is behind this military agenda? What interests are being
served? What is the purpose of the military operation.
There is evidence that the attacks were carefully coordinated
by the US military and NATO.
Moscow has accused NATO of "encouraging Georgia".
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underscored
the destabilizing impacts of "foreign" military aid to Georgia: .
Dick Cheney: attack on Georgia 'must not go unanswered' as war expands
Monday, August 11th 2008, 2:11 AM
A soldier in the disputed territory of South Ossetia cradles a child as troops move through the village of Dzhava Sunday.
Russia's invasion "must not go unanswered," Cheney said through a spokeswoman.
Nearly 700,000 Russian troops pounded about 20,000 Georgian troops - including 2,000 pulled from fighting alongside U.S. soldiers in Iraq - as the war, begun over the disputed territory of South Ossetia, spilled over into Georgia itself.
Hundreds of civilians were killed and thousands more fled their homes Sunday.
"Yes, Russians control Tskhinvali," said Georgian spokesman Shota Utiashvili, who accused the Russians of "trying to cut the country in half."
But hopes of a ceasefire dimmed Sunday as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the U.S. that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili "must go," according to Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Saakashvili said Russia bombed the airport in Tbilisi just 30 minutes before French and Finnish envoys arrived in the country to help mediate a peace deal.
Russian troops also advanced on the Georgian city of Gori, which sits on a main highway, and reportedly bombed a major pipeline that supplies oil to the West.
"Russia has targeted not just Georgian economic outlets but international economic outlets as well," said Georgia's economic minister, Ekaterina Sharashidzne.
South Ossetia has been autonomous since splitting with Georgia in the early 1990s, though it is not recognized as an independent nation internationally.
Tensions have escalated in recent months as Russia began issuing Russian passports to South Ossetians.Separatists in Abkhazia, another disputed Georgian region, have also joined in the fighting, threatening to make the conflict worse.
ג וַאֲבָרְכָה, מְבָרְכֶיךָ, וּמְקַלֶּלְךָ, אָאֹר; וְנִבְרְכוּ בְךָ, כֹּל מִשְׁפְּחֹת הָאֲדָמָה. 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.'