Once in a Blue Agave Moon: Chapter Eight: Cyber Warfare and the Armageddon Virus

 

Stuxnet was not the first shot fired, but it was the most widely publicized and successful viral attack that had geopolitical implications of its day.
It also set the stage for what was to follow.
Stuxnet was a malicious computer worm that was allegedly generated in the early days of the new millennium by the joint efforts of the United States and Israel designed to disrupt and sabotage the weapons-grade Uranium enrichment facilities in Iran, especially the Natanz nuclear facility and the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
What was most especially interesting was that it was the first of its kind to specifically target programmable logic controllers, (PLC’s) which control electromechanical processes such as those related to automation and control of machinery and assembly lines.
It was designed to target Microsoft Windows operating systems that utilized Siemens Step7 software. It was not domain-specific and could be used as a platform for attacking both SACADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) and PLC systems.
Stuxnet was composed of three modules: a worm that executed all routines related to the main payload of the attack; a link file that automatically executed the propagated copies of the worm; and a rootkit component responsible for hiding all malicious files and processes, preventing detection of the presence of Stuxnet.
Once described as “…having attorney’s fingerprints all over it…” , to create the impression of not violating any International Laws as much as possible, it had an alleged end date, and only effected a very small percentage of systems or networks outside of Iran; specifically the gas centrifuges of the Natanz and Bushehr facilities, causing them to either over-run or slow down so as to self-destruct from a variety of possible factors, while sending false (normal) monitoring information to the users.
Because Iran’s targeted PLC’s were not connected to the internet, the virus had to be introduced via an infected USB drive by a mole within Iran’s development facilities. Once installed, it began to propagate within all other computers within the network, scanning for Siemens Step7 on computers that controlled a PLC. If it found nothing it remained dormant and undetected within the computer, at least until such time as the opportunity presented itself.
It exploited four zero-day vulnerabilities and utilized almost half a gigabyte of data, which was previously unprecedented in any other malware virus, and effectively upped the ante as far as both defensive or offensive future strategies for cyber warfare.
Long before the September 11th attacks on the United States, there had been numerous malware developed that attempted to utilize the internet that were financially motivated and did not involve multi-national cooperation to execute.
Stuxnet was a game-changer that dictated the future paradigms of international espionage that also included data-mining of their targets.
In effect, we taught our enemies how to bring down the house of cards that had sheltered our pampered way of life.
Most Americans of that time were complacent and took their privilege and power within the world economy and military for granted, assuming the dream would never end.
Historically, partly due to the vast separation from the continents of Europe and Asia especially, American politics and foreign policy were isolationist until our alliances within Europe prior to World War One contributed to our involvement there…on on their continent. World War Two followed the same paradigm: “Not in my back yard.”
As we became the self-proclaimed World Police, we tasked ourselves as the champions of Freedom, Democracy, and Capitalism and protectors of the weak and downtrodden…especially if there was a buck to be made in the process and it did not take place on our soil.
We created the impression that it motivated our actions in Korea, Viet Nam, and the Mideast.
Unlike the United Kingdom, which used its Army and Navy under government sanction to first conquer, then colonize the rest of the world as they saw fit, America simply encouraged its industries to outsource themselves in foreign lands, frequently wreaking social, economic, and political havoc wherever we went.
Essentially different guises and similar methods to achieve the same results….
Depending upon the era, the French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch did their share of Imperialist expansion as well. (The Dutch, who now self-righteously consider themselves to be the model of egalitarian neutrality seemed to suffer from conveniently short memories about their participation in the Slave Trade, once regarding themselves as too good to keep slaves, but not above buying and selling them.)
The seeds of hatred and lust for revenge had been sown in the Mid-East a thousand years before. Any nation associated with the sign of the cross stood to reap the whirlwind of the Karma of the Crusades, especially England, France and the United States, who chose to either colonize the area for themselves, or as proxy for Israel.
Whether it was in China, Japan, Central and South America, the Mideast or Africa, the deeper the boot of our collective military forces were planted in foreign soil, the more the land bled and filled those footsteps with hatred for those whom we had victimized.
It was all just a matter of time.
Compared to Geological Time, the Time of Man is like a bug hitting the windshield of our Cosmos, but given enough time, as in quantum theory, anything that can happen eventually will happen.
In less than one hundred years, America went from an Agrarian, to an Industrial, to a Service-based economy as our opulence and complacency bred envy world-wide.
We were raised to believe that our ever-lasting Ice Cream Cone of eternal happiness and prosperity would never melt.
Meanwhile, our enemies were launching as many as thirty thousand viral cyber attacks every month against the United States, its allies and the World Banking System, as well as any and all computer-controlled infrastructure.
As far as Communist Asia, Islam, and Eastern Europe were concerned “The enemy of my enemy” became not “my friend” as much as a co-conspirator against their common enemy.
Our united enemies were infinitely patient in developing what became known as the Armageddon Virus, which was so complex and far-reaching as to make Stuxnet look like Atari’s Pong compared to Battlefield Four.
Patient enough to take decades to surreptitiously tunnel beneath the Federal Gold Reserve at Fort Knox as well as the other facilities that represented the Federal Reserve Banking System in order to explode thermonuclear devices that would not only render them worthless, but also made the public fearful of any gold or silver in any form as being potentially radioactive.
Patient enough to even develop programs to decode our most secure encryption codes used by the military and intelligence communities, thereby ensuring that not a single missile was launched against the perpetrators, the identities of whom were indistinct and geographically obscure.
But due to the inherently treacherous, suspicious, deceitful, and generally bellicose nature of our enemies, it wasn’t long before they reduced each other’s countries to smoking ruins and glass.
Every culture or semblance of civilization that was left did not possess either the means or sophistication to wage any warfare, except on a very local basis.
It seems ironic now that it took what almost amounted to The End of Days to bring what could have been World Peace were it not for the fact that the violence, riots, looting, and even cannibalism that ensued were local in nature even if they existed world-wide.
It seemed that mankind’s inherent propensity for fear, xenophobia, greed, and violence against each other did not need either a flag or a religion to bring out the worst as well as the best in itself.
Our highly specialized dependence on technology had led us back to the stone age for those who did not possess the knowledge and nature to become self-sufficient, and the good sense to eschew anyone who didn’t.

 

“That government is best which governs least, because its people discipline themselves.”
Thoreau

2 Responses to “Once in a Blue Agave Moon: Chapter Eight: Cyber Warfare and the Armageddon Virus”

  1. New petrol has been found in places where either there previously was none, or where the previous stores were dried up. The long-standing theory has been that we are powering our petroleum product proclivities with ancient decomposed carbon matter from prehistoric eras. But what is accepted as fact is NOT a fact. It is a theory. And it may well be disproven if scientists can pull their heads out of politicians’ asses long enough to assess the data being collected.

    Oh, wait! Scientists ARE doing that. Just not in the U.S. or the U.K. How silly of me to forget: we live in our own world, nevermind what the rest of the world is doing. Particularly if it doesn’t promote trendy agendas.

    One author I really like is Steve Berry. He writes great fiction, but is a detailed and analytical researcher of fact. He tackled the “oil now where before there was none” conundrum in one of his books. He’s also pretty adept at creating – and unraveling, and pointing out the ‘maybe it’s not so nuts’ parts about – conspiracy theories. I think you would enjoy reading him.

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