Two simple questions:
Q #1) Is there any way a hacker with a laptop could cause your commercial jet to crash into a mountian ?
A: No, of course not.
Q #2) Do CIA drones have higher security controls than ordinary drones?
A: Is there any doubt? Of course CIA drones have higher security.
Uhhh, wait a minute.
The students did it to demonstrate just how easy it would be to redirect unmanned vehicles, and they did it at the request of Homeland Security.
Since commercial airplanes now depend upon GPS – could the students control a commercial airplane ?
Or could they bypass all security and control a CIA drone like Iran’s engineers did?
So American commercial aircraft have adequate flight control security – right?
Wrong. Actually, American commercial aircraft have ZERO flight control security in general, and of course, none on their GPS systems. And that’s what the students used.
CIA drones probably have higher control security than ordinary drones and commercial aircraft.
But there’s an Achilles heel. All modern aircraft use GPS signals from satellites to guide their direction and altitude.
It is relatively easy to bypass security on GPS systems because nearby radio control signals are so much stronger than signals from distant GPS satellites.
So it should be no surprise to us that Iran’s engineers took over all control of a highly secure CIA drone spying on their country and landed it safely. And now have access to all CIA’s leading edge drone technology. Clever Iran, not so clever CIA.
But real evil doers might not want to land your commercial flight safely.
So with that as a warm up – let me reluctantly introduce you to Stuxnet.
Historic Landmark Virus – Damages Physical Machinery
Stuxnet is completely new kind of technology, in my view, potentially posing the most dangerous threat to safe civilization. More than nuclear war, more than chemical or bio-weapons – even more than Starbucks financial troubles !
Up until 2008 computer viruses were only known to destroy information — data and communications. Stuxnet is the first software to destroy physical things by controlling machinery and machines that control equipment including vehicles. Technically they are called Industrial Control System/Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ICS/SCADA).
Stuxnet was authorized by US Presidents G W Bush and Obama along with the Israeli government. Obama was advised by CIA head Leon Panetta. All of them were fully aware that this is a dramatically new kind of warfare and “even under the most careful and limited circumstances — could enable other countries, terrorists or hackers to justify their own attacks [on the United States].”
Because Stuxnet and its offspring can damage every kind of physical infrastructure that uses computers (Power Plants, Air Traffic Control, Hospital equipment . . .) I am seriously concerned that in the next fifty years more people will die at the hands of Stuxnet type malware, than have died from all the nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents combined.
(Update: Agreeing with this is NewScientist Commentary July 2, 2012 “Cyberwar’s eerie echoes of the A-bomb race” mentions the cyberwarfare weapons potential harms: “air-traffic control systems, electrical grids and financial markets would cause widespread damage, hardship and even death.“)
On a personal note if you are worried about your own computers, as of 2012, most popular anti-virus software detects and removes Stuxnet. If you need more confidence you can download a specific Stuxnet Removal Tool by Trend Micro (for free).
Legal and Political
Because Stuxnet is designed to cause physical damage to machines of war, and because the War Powers Resolution of 1973 requires the President notify Congress and get Congressional Approval before going to war (neither of which were done) — there is a very serious, legitimate legal question about whether both Presidents violated the law.
So Congress is concerned about this – right ?
Wrong. Wired reports that California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Coverup) has “called for Capitol Hill hearings about the leaks about Stuxnet — but not about the extraordinary attack itself.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Defeat Obama) joined in the call to investigate the leaks – but not the historical landmark of US Presidents conducting physical warfare using a computer program.
If Pro is the opposite of Con – what’s the opposite of Pro-gress ?
The New York Times explains how US President Obama, advised by then CIA director Carmel Valley’s Leon Panetta, gave approval for Stuxnet: Obama Order Sped Up Wave of Cyberattacks Against Iran
So for heaving into sight the end of safe civilization – we can thank Presidents George W Bush, and Barak H Obama, with a tip of the hat to former CIA chief and now Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
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