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America's War on the Web 428

An anonymous reader writes "The Sunday Herald is reporting that while the US is continuing to pursue traditional means of protecting national security, they are also planning to launch a new wave of 'information warfare' to help combat a perceived growing threat of IT security. From the article: 'The Pentagon has already signed off $383 million to force through the document's recommendations by 2009. Military and intelligence sources in the US talk of "a revolution in the concept of warfare". The report orders three new developments in America's approach to warfare [...] the Pentagon says it will wage war against the internet in order to dominate the realm of communications, prevent digital attacks on the US and its allies, and to have the upper hand when launching cyber-attacks against enemies.'"
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America's War on the Web

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  • by haluness ( 219661 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:12PM (#15052929)
    I'd think that the simplest solution would be to (ironically) wall of the US internet. Of course this would allow the rest of the internet to publish what they want.

    So is the US essentially saying that it wants to control (or influence in nicer terms) the entire internet?
  • by Phanatic1a ( 413374 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:21PM (#15052989)
    While it hasn't yet been modded up enough for me to see it, I'm sure there's already a bunch of whining about how us eeevul hegemonistic Americans are all set to sally forth trampling across the internet in our zeal to wage war.

    Sorry, this is just being smart. Keep in mind how prevalent botnets are, how they basically rule all of Asia, Eastern Europe, most of South America, and even substantial chunks of America and Western Europe. Keep in mind how much spam those networks churn out on a daily basis, how much money they earn the people who own them. Then realize that spam is about the *least* harmful thing they could be used for.
  • by jbeaupre ( 752124 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:34PM (#15053088)
    It's a problem of history and symantics. Americans, and probably others, associate the word "war" with a concerted effort to destroy something they don't and shouldn't like (i.e. Nazis). So "war on poverty","war on drugs", etc makes quick sense to people. Unfortunately it's not quite the right word, conveys the wrong connotations, and is cliche. But no one has come up with anything better. Not that there's a shortage of candidates.

    But if you think of one, you'll make big bucks as a speech writer.
  • by Firewalker_Midnights ( 943814 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:35PM (#15053099)
    Not to trivialize anything that the government would say (oh precious politicians, you do entrance me so) but isn't the whole "Cyber Terror" idea a bit absurd. You have websites that issue propaganda, and the like, sure, but it's not as if you're forced to look at them, you can just close the window and/or block the site. The fact that they exist isn't threatening in anyway, as you can simply choose to ignore it.

    And really large defacements/ DDoS attacks haven't occured much, if at all in recent history. I understand the fear of DDoS attacks on government electronic infrastructure, but the important stuff shouldn't be accessible from outside sources at any rate.

    On top of that, why would one require a whole militarization of what overly zealous and patriotic hackers have been doing for quite some time now? Bankroll their cause if you're so interested in combating an enemy digitally.
  • by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw@ y a h o o . com> on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:36PM (#15053121) Journal
    E.g. an American creates an anti-us website, and happens to cross-link an image located on a Pakistani website. Now this is considered an "international communication channel" which justifies to the NSA full sniffing of packets, forfeiture of logs from the ISP, etc.

    Has this actually happened, or are you crying wolf? If so, to whom did it happen, when did it happen, what fallout has there been...? In short, what are the relevant details to prove such an event ever occurred?
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:39PM (#15053153) Homepage
    War on poverty, war on drugs, war on terror... now war on the Internet...

    And here I always thought a "war" was "a state of open, armed, often prolonged conflict carried on between nations, states, or parties."

    Well, the Internet is sort of like a party, I guess.

    I also always thought that it was Congress that had the power to declare war, and that it wasn't war until Congress said it was war.

    But, OK, Bush had is way on the war thing, but just let him try issuing a letter of marque and reprisal and a betcha Congress will hit him upside the head with a check and a balance.

  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <.Satanicpuppy. .at.> on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:43PM (#15053189) Journal
    It's pretty ridiculous anyway...Major government websites fail security audits every year, and they don't spend any time working on them, they don't come up with intelligent standards...I've got my quarterly corporate audit sitting on the desk right in front of me.

    The right way to do it would be to harden your local security, rather than trying any kind of offense. A good offense is only the best defense if you have a freaking target. If you don't have a target, either you have to invent one *cough*Iraq*cough* or you flail about like an idiot and look foolish.
  • by Thomas Shaddack ( 709926 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:44PM (#15053201)
    This looks like the great US of A wants to control information flow in the rest of the world. Here is what the world should do:

    Decentralize the comm infrastructure. As widely as technically possible. Redesign it to fail gracefully. Deploy mesh networking as backup system. For cellular telephony, form a mesh network of both the base stations and the handsets themselves, so even if all the bases are destroyed the handsets still can maintain the network themselves, at least for text messaging. Same for wifi routers and other kinds of comm nodes. As a non-military benefit, this could serve as a fallback for cases of "normal" infrastructure overload.

    Develop and deploy ultrawideband technology for consumer devices, making it difficult to impossible to jam the band using the military EWAR toys. This should also make the communication more robust against non-military noise sources.

    Develop and deploy phase-array antennas for consumer devices, to automatically adjust the antenna patterns according to the position of the comm devices, both saving batteries and rejecting jamming signals from unwanted directions.

    Design the civilian infrastructure to be hardened against both intentional attacks and natural disasters taking out swaths of infrastructure. Make it a matter of national security.

    All the technologies required are already existing. Now they just have to be brought out of the labs and released on the street.

    Last but not least, prepare lower-tech fallback to establish networks disseminating the people's version of truth to counter the occupant's version, as you can not rely on the infrastructure providers. Prepare a diverse range of tactics, from people physically meeting together and swapping printouts and tapes to low-power FM and TV stations made of repurposed consumer equipment (eg. an antenna connected to the modulated output of a VCR - covers only a block or so but better than nothing. Covers significantly more with an output amplifier.) So take out your old book about antennas and read it today. You do not know when your expertise will be needed.

    Be ready. Be prepared. Be Pentagon-proof.

  • by GuyMannDude ( 574364 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:44PM (#15053202) Journal

    The article may have briefly talked about terrorism, but I suspect the real danger comes from state-sponsored cyber-attacks, like from China. Terrorism is just a convenient explanation to use to the public. You can't come out and say you're preparing for an attack by China now, can you?

    BTW, for those who think that cyber-warfare is a science-fiction concept, I draw your attention to the following analysis of Operation Allied Force []. In particular, the section regarding cyber-attacks on surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems to protect our fighters (F-22, F-35):

    Beyond the stealthiness portended by the F-22 and F-35, another promising avenue for dealing with emergent SAM threats may lie in the realm of nonkinetic alternatives. To offer but a glimpse into the more intriguing possibilities in this respect, General Jumper remarked after Allied Force that although information operations remained a highly classified subject about which little could be said, the Kosovo experience suggested that "instead of sitting and talking about great big pods that bash electrons, we should be talking about microchips that manipulate electrons and get into the heart and soul of systems like the SA-10 or the SA-12 and tell it that it is a refrigerator and not a radar." Some of the more cutting-edge variants of first-generation offensive cyber warfare, reportedly tested successfully in Allied Force, suggested the feasibility of taking down enemy SAM and other defense systems in ways that would not require putting a strike package or a HARM on critical nodes to neutralize them. Toward that end, Gen Hal Hornburg, current commander of Air Combat Command, recently reiterated the importance of looking beyond familiar solutions to this looming threat in certain portions of President George W. Bush's "axis of evil," where the United States might find itself engaged militarily: "We don't just need jammers and we don't just need Block 50s. . . . We need an array of capabilities. . . . I am looking for kinetic and non-kinetic solutions. I am looking, for example, for space to be able to get down to an SA-10 and convince it to launch all missiles right now or to deny it from launching their missiles right now."

    Information warfare WILL happen, my friends. In fact, it's happening now. No, you won't find that written up in the newspaper. Do a little bit of googling and see what you come up with. :)


  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @04:54PM (#15053276) Homepage
    During the Spanish-American War (1898), the American Navy cut the oceanic telegraph cables that connected Cuba to the rest of the Spanish Empire. See Cable-Cutting At Cienfuegos []. During the first and second world wars, underseas cables were high-priority targets and were often cut.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 03, 2006 @05:41PM (#15053598)
    i'm also sick of war and warfare.

    Some of the "facts" remain in contention. Iraq for example was a Soviet ally through the 1980's and its arsenal is largely Soviet weaponry. European countries such as France sold a lot of commercial projects that had technical side-benefits for military development.

    Iran and Iraq faced off in a seven or eight-year long war. Iraq used WMD, nerve agents etc against the Iranian forces who had a numerical advantage. Iraq also used WMD against the Kurdish population in the north. The US lost its greatest opportunity to dampen this conflict when it failed to ground the Iraqi air force in time to prevent these weapons from being used. The no-fly zone was a belated attempt to rectify this.

    You can call it a sad series of errors and cynical misplays on all sides. Any war examined neutrally will be such a series. But this cannot be laid solely at the feet of the US. Iraq had a Soviet-cultivated despot at its head, who needed no encouragement to perform horrors in his country and among neighbors. Whatever cynical use he was put to by the US (containment of Iran is alleged) he was backed powerfully by France, Germany and other commercial partners who were happy to take the money and look the other way.

    At that time I worked in aviation, we had international airlines as customers for our life saving equipment... trade with Iraq in those days was very very difficult... I would venture to say with a good deal of confidence that not much money changed hands in the commercial sector between the US and Iraq, very little compared to the money and technical support flowing in from Europe. The tendency to blame the US is tends also to oversimplify and this does a permanent injustice to whatever the truth might be.
  • by bpd1069 ( 57573 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @06:59PM (#15054076) Homepage
    I haven't since 2001, and that is my legal defense.
  • by Crash6-24 ( 704161 ) on Monday April 03, 2006 @07:09PM (#15054134)
    Read "The Peace War" by Vernor Vinge for a future view of nearly-absolute power and how information mis-management can subvert it.
  • by TransEurope ( 889206 ) <eniac @ u n i -> on Monday April 03, 2006 @08:36PM (#15054593)
    They pay 160 Million bucks for a single F-22,
    and then they invest just 383 Million Dollars
    for the whole IT-security from now to 2009?
    Great relation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @12:37AM (#15055581)
    However, that being said, I do resent the remark that we go to war on little more than a whim.

    Really? What in the hell do you call false, wrong, misleading, and or "bad" intelligence that causes a fuckup on this order of magnitude? I've lived in an Islamic country, and I've worked for the US gov't. in various capacities. I'm telling you the whole goddamned thing stinks and I'm a Republican (generally McCain, with a little less war emphasis thankyouverymuch).

    However, a father figure so to speak is needed these days.

    No, it doesn't. It needs a framework that works like the UN was supposed to work (btw, screw you Kofi!) with the teeth of NATO. Who are we (yes, I'm a USian) to dictate what is right and wrong? Compared to actually secular countries (you know, like some of those countries in "Old Europe"*) we're slowly becoming the enemy, only under the guise of Christianity.

    As I said before, what Bush did was desperate. There was a lot of risk in what he did and we would be ignorant to think that he didn't know the risks. I'd guess he had mathematicians, foreign affairs experts and several other advisers trying to predict outcomes of various actions both short term and long term. Before the war, I saw the biggest risk being the consequences that would come. We all knew that many people in the world would see the situation as America the Bully pushing around other countries. What would all the consequences of that mentality be, I thought. That's the risk Bush knowingly took when he invaded Iraq and ousted Saddam, thereby attempting to speed up their civilization's growth. I'm sure it's even more complicated than I see it.

    What Bush did was criminal. We could have kept Saddam contained and let him rant and rave and then maybe pulled his chain a bit to sell Iraqi oil. Somewhere along the line a group of 'murrkins of recursive genetic ancestry started equating iraQ with al Qaeda. Saddam didn't tolerate competition in his own country, and he goddamned knew good and well that if he sold jack shit in terms of WMDs let alone used them that we'd make him glow in the dark. In the mean time Iran is eating this shit up. They think it's great. We've destabilized a large country that has over night become a cesspool for terrorists.

    And don't even get me started on the "axis of evil" speech. The Iranians were starting to lean toward the moderate side of the scale. Now it appears as though their nuke program is buried in so many different locations that we can't even effectively bomb it. What happens when they test their first nuke and then state "oh, and by the way, we built five more just like it and scattered them across the country.. just in case you know".

    The problem we've got here in the states is that we really do not understand the Middle East and hence step in piles of shit at every turn. Do I agree with Islam? As practiced in parts of the Middle East hell no! Is it for me to say that it's right or wrong across the pond? Uh no. And no, I'm not implying that the Middle East is "purely Islamic".

    In other words, we're not the world's police, morals and values squad. Especially since what tiny step ladder we had to stand on to brag of moral superiority is now a pit.

    *The French are still assholes though. Just because they're French.

    On that note I should take a deep breath, have a beer, and hit the sack.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 04, 2006 @08:08AM (#15056723)
    You don't achieve the most powerful instance of organized coercion (government) the world has ever seen -- a global empire for christ's sake -- by bumbling your way there.

    The power elite knows exactly what they are doing. They always have. That's why they are the power elite. I suggest we don't give them the benefit of the doubt by shrugging it off as "bumbling". Government operates in self interest, just like you, me, and every other individual or group of individuals on this planet. The difference, of course, is that government holds the unique "right" to employ coercion as their means, and we don't.

    The US federal government has achieved a significant expansion of power since the current administration took control. I'd say everything is going exactly as planned.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton