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Could Cyber-Terrorists Provoke Nuclear Attacks? 183

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the telling-woprs dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Guardian reports that according to a study commissioned by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese Governments, terrorists could use information warfare techniques to make a nuclear attack more likely — triggering a catastrophic chain of events that may be an easier alternative 'than building or acquiring a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb themselves.' While the possibility of a radical group gaining access to actual launch systems is remote, the study suggests that terrorists could focus on feeding in false information further down the chain — or spreading fake information to officials in a carefully orchestrated strike. According to the study 'Hacking Nuclear Command and Control' [PDF], cyber-terrorists could 'provoke a nuclear launch by spoofing early warning and identification systems or by degrading communications networks.' Since command and control systems are placed at a higher degree of exploitation due to the need for rapid decisions under high pressure with limited intelligence, cyber-terrorists 'would not need deception that could stand up over time; they would only need to be believable in the first 15 minutes or so.'"
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Could Cyber-Terrorists Provoke Nuclear Attacks?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:08PM (#28844511) Journal
    We discussed this the day the report was released [slashdot.org] and the conversation was pretty much limited to BSOD jokes and War Games references. Hopefully it turns out a little more interesting this time around.

    Really, I'm less worried about the cyber part of one of these attacks and am more so worried about the weakest link in the chain: the human factor. Social, over-the-shoulder or 'soft' hacks would be the few ways left to gain access. Mental manipulation like keeping someone in the dark would be the best way to scare them into action. It's not like someone's magically overcoming the physical barrier that exists between the internet and these secure networks on which sensitive information and control are relegated--you need a human to exploit.

    At least this time around the title's gone from

    Hacking Nuclear Command and Control

    to

    Could Cyber-Terrorists Provoke Nuclear Attacks?

    Which is a lot more accurate but a lot less newsworthy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by koolfy (1213316)

      and am more so worried about the weakest link in the chain: the human factor

      that's why I'll never trust nuclear weapons.

      With conventional weapons, we can always step back at time (or little after time), attackers are not isolated from main command when sent, and a spoofed war declaration can be reverted, even after one accidental bombing (this creating some serious diplomatic issues though...)
      With nuclear weapons, no stepping back of any way (that I know), and after the first strike, the war is over, or forever.

      Since I don't know much more than what movies told me I may be w

      • by SEWilco (27983) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:35PM (#28844807) Journal

        and am more so worried about the weakest link in the chain: the human factor

        that's why I'll never trust nuclear weapons.

        It's no the weapons which you don't trust. It's the humans with them.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by koolfy (1213316)
          I would'n thust weapons with no human control eighter...

          Just look at how easily antiviruses erase innocent files.
          • by Sir_Lewk (967686)

            Something tells me that the triggering mechanisms are a bit more complex and failsafe than some shitty antivirus program.

            As evidence of this assertion, never once has a nuclear weapon accidentally detonated (and there sure are lots of them...)

          • by SEWilco (27983)
            So how much harder is it for viruses to erase experienced files than innocent files?
            • by EdIII (1114411) *

              So how much harder is it for viruses to erase experienced files than innocent files?

              How the FUCK would I know??

              I don't have any *innocent* files.....

      • by johnsonav (1098915) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:39PM (#28844857) Journal

        With nuclear weapons, no stepping back of any way (that I know), and after the first strike, the war is over, or forever.

        Well, that's kind of the point, isn't it? So long as everyone knows that the missiles can't be recalled, that fact becomes part of the deterrence.

        Makes everyone very, very careful.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by koolfy (1213316)
          No matter how careful you are, Murphy's Law is always around...
          • No matter how careful you are, Murphy's Law is always around...

            Sure. But, we can engineer the probability of failure down to a level where the costs of not having nukes will be higher.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              Who is "we"? I'm sure every nation on earth trusts their own brilliant and faithful nuclear establishment implicitly... but how much do you trust some emerging power that just figured out how to go nuclear? Do you trust the rebels in a coup that siezes control of a nuclear arsenal? Ultimately use control comes down to keeping good guys in and bad guys out, unfortunately the technology itself cannot make any such distinction.

              Personally I think the odds of my living to see a nuclear exchange that kills a

              • ... but how much do you trust some emerging power that just figured out how to go nuclear? Do you trust the rebels in a coup that siezes control of a nuclear arsenal?

                I don't trust them at all. That's why we have all those nukes. It makes it crystal-fucking-clear that we can destroy them utterly. Every single person in a newly-minted nuclear power knows that. We make sure they know that. As long as they know they will never ever win a nuclear war against us, it doesn't matter who's in power.

                Personally I think the odds of my living to see a nuclear exchange that kills at least a billion people are greater than 1 in 4.

                Where do you get that number? And who exactly would the exchange be between?

                • by timeOday (582209)
                  I will freely admit my number is a guess. But when I look back at history, it is filled with almost constant war, and the nuclear genie keeps getting further and further out of the bottle. I look at what we did to Saddam Hussein - made up a story about him, set impossible conditions for him to meet, then used that as an excuse to capture and execute him. In this case, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, but it would not be unreasonable on a purely selfish personal basis for somebody in his position
                  • I look at what we did to Saddam Hussein - made up a story about him, set impossible conditions for him to meet, then used that as an excuse to capture and execute him. In this case, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, but it would not be unreasonable on a purely selfish personal basis for somebody in his position (facing extinction with no way out) to lash out with everything he's got.

                    Okay. I see what you're saying. Though, I don't think that kind of situation is terribly likely for a few reasons.

                    First, we didn't do that to a nuclear power. We knew Saddam didn't have nukes. I would think that situation would have played out much differently, and without an invasion, if he had. (Of course, the unintended consequence of this kind of thinking is what makes nuclear research so important to these kinds of countries.)

                    Second, sure the leader may be driven to suicidal extremes. But, there's alwa

                    • by timeOday (582209)

                      None of them are capable of deploying an effective nuclear strike against the US.

                      I agree the US will probably not be involved (though it's not impossible - I believe McManara when he says the Cuban missile crisis amounted to a coin toss that could have gone either way). But there are a lot of less stable governments than ours with nukes, eventually two of them will get into a game of chicken. Who knows, maybe some effective defense will be invented before that occurs (though I can't imagine what it wou

                • by Artifakt (700173) on Tuesday July 28, 2009 @01:22AM (#28847963)

                  Let's look at Pakistan vs India. If we assume a radical Islamic faction gets control in Pakistan, and elects to use part or all their arsenal against particularly Hindu dominated portions of India, the direct casualties on the Indian side would be in the 1's to 10's of millions range. That's because the Pakistanis would be using relatively low yield Plutonium based devices, but their missiles are inaccurate enough and take long enough to prep that cities are about their only effective targets. An Indian retaliatory strike would involve some actual H-Bombs (which they don't admit having still in their arsenal, but they built and tested several designs), and probably more focus on pure military targets, but India has multiple Islamic neighbors, and they have made it clear in the past that they are not real concerned about fallout on those nations in a Pakistan/India exchange. A safe lowball estimate on total casualties is upwards of 200 Million. That's assuming India doesn't decide to kill the Indonesian navy and some other resources under Islamic regime control as a just in case. Could that happen? If it did, would that push total casualties over a billion? The best answer I ever heard on both those was 'not highly probable, but just maybe'. No one really wants to commit to a lower number, even if a billion seems a little high.
                        Then there's the claim that Israel has a secret doctrine that in the event of a nuclear attack from an Islamic power on their major cities, they will coldly and deliberately kill Mecca and as many great centers of the Muslim faith as they can hit. The idea there is that the Koran supposedly says that all believers who fail to prevent the loss of the ability to make the journey to Mecca will burn in hell forever regardless of what else they do in their faith (or some Muslim factions have interpreted various verses in a way that justifies Jehad as physical violence, but also implies this, so if they insist it's true, the idea is give them the negative side of the claim.).
                        It's hard to see people clinging to their religion if they are doctrinally a whole generation all condemned to hell down to the youngest born child and beyond no matter what they do. But it's also quite possible this would lead to a tremendous number of fanatics willing to die for the cause if their Mullahs assure them there's an escape clause in their somewhere, and a war that would have to be fought to the last fanatic on either side. I'd say that exchange could easily build into a Gigadeath or more.
                        The biggest doubt I have about this scenario is the claim for secret Israeli plans seems to come from some of the very Muslim fanatics that you'd think it would be a big de-motivator for them to seek nukes of their own if they really believed it. That seems exceptionally illogical unless they are very confident it's just a claim they made up.

                • As long as they know they will never ever win a nuclear war against us, it doesn't matter who's in power.

                  Just because they know doen't mean they care.

                  If you kill an infidel you go to heaven and get sixty virgins, plus there's an all you can eat buffet. Didn't you get the memo?

                  • If you kill an infidel you go to heaven and get sixty virgins, plus there's an all you can eat buffet.

                    Do you still get the buffet if your actions cause the US to destroy Mecca?

              • by rtb61 (674572)

                Hmm, good guys with nuclear weapons, weapons designed to kill millions of people at a throw. Sounds like a misnomer to me, much like military intelligence. Goods guys do not have or develop mass murdering weapons, you are really going to have to settle for not quite so evil guys with weapons of mass destruction, otherwise you really are just fooling yourself much the same as they try to fool everyone else with PR=B$ (I hear there are top profits in all kinds of human killing weapons, really sick, huh ?, HU

                • by gtall (79522)

                  "basically forcing every other country to adopt nuclear weapons", Wow!! Hey, yer right! We're forcing Saudi Arabia to want nukes by forcing Iran to have nukes so they can threaten Israel which needs its nukes to defend against Iran...how sneaky of us. And Indonesia, we're encouraging India to have nukes so they can threaten Pakistan which we supported so they can have nukes, so that then Indonesia feels its needs nukes to defend against India should India target their brothers in Pakistan. And the Japanese,

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jra (5600)

          MAD assumes rationality.

          Wars are not started by rational people.

          • MAD assumes rationality.

            Wars are not started by rational people.

            There are degrees of rationality. And MAD works for pretty much all of them except people who are completely off their rockers'. Don't find many of those kinds of people running nuclear powers (Yes, I'm including Iran, NK, and Pakistan.)

            • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:01PM (#28845061) Homepage

              Where MAD falls apart is when the leaders don't give a rat's ass about the civilian population.

              I would say that recent events in Iran make it pretty clear that the civilian population doesn't matter all that much to the leaders. North Korea is at that level or perhaps worse. If the military leadership in either country could be confident of survival I don't see MAD being a deterrent at all.

              So what if 80% of the civilian population is wiped out?

              • by johnsonav (1098915) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:12PM (#28845159) Journal

                Where MAD falls apart is when the leaders don't give a rat's ass about the civilian population.

                I would say that recent events in Iran make it pretty clear that the civilian population doesn't matter all that much to the leaders. North Korea is at that level or perhaps worse. If the military leadership in either country could be confident of survival I don't see MAD being a deterrent at all.

                So what if 80% of the civilian population is wiped out?

                You realize that both of those countries are (or will be) able to field no more than a handful (at most) of nuclear weapons, right? And, that neither has the capability to disrupt our own volley of nukes.

                Neither of them is able to "win" a nuclear war. Even if the leadership survives, and 80% of the population is killed, they won't really have a country left to lead, let alone maintain a military to defend against anything. It still doesn't make any sense for them to use nukes.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                I would say that recent events in Iran make it pretty clear that the civilian population doesn't matter all that much to the leaders.

                You are mistaken there. Lives of individual people definitely don't matter at all to those leaders, but overall population count definitely does - it's the productivity of that population, whether in factories or on the fields of battle, that keeps them afloat.

                Simply put, when you play Starcraft, you probably don't care about the life on one particular unit, but you do care to have them in sufficient numbers to defend against the enemy. Entering into a mutual nuclear strike exchange where all your units die

              • by MrSteveSD (801820)

                Where MAD falls apart is when the leaders don't give a rat's ass about the civilian population.

                That statement would cover the UK's (and probably many other countries) attitude toward public nuclear shelters. There aren't any. They didn't spend a penny on it. The feeble argument they made was that a shelter can't take a direct strike, so you really only need to protect people from fallout, which they can do by preparing their homes appropriately. This is a thoroughly specious argument though. There certainly is a zone of destruction where a shelter won't save you, but there is also a wide zone where

          • by Duradin (1261418)

            Wars should be started by rational people. Then they'd have a much better chance of being properly used as one of the last tools of resolving State v. State issues and not another plank in some party's platform.

            Unfortunately "police actions" tend to be started by very irrational people and police actions are much easier to start, harder to stop, and avoid all the formalities entailed in an actual declaration of war.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by superwiz (655733)
            Oh? Rational thought was essentially invented by Aristotle -- the tutor of Alexander.
          • by selven (1556643)
            Many wars are started by rational self-interested people. "Nobody wins in a war" is completely false - the mistake is thinking of a country as a single entity where 100% of the population follow a benevolent dictator like sheep (this is the model pretty much all video games teach you). There are people within a country who would benefit from a war - military industries, people getting bribes from a third country or organization trying to bring two countries down by setting them against each other for its ow
        • That doesn't stop the US and a lot of other nuclear armed countries fitting nuclear weapons on just about everything that flies or sails. Really, having a few nuclear ICBMs is simply sane with other hostile countries. However, loading submarines with multiple warheads is not. If you must have nuclear armed subs, arm each one with one low-yield nuke. Any more and you are just begging for an accident.
          • by TheMeuge (645043) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:03PM (#28845083)

            If you must have nuclear armed subs, arm each one with one low-yield nuke. Any more and you are just begging for an accident.

            I think you're missing the concept of "assured destruction" in Mutually Assured Destruction.

            An american missile sub can have 20 missiles, with 8x50kt warheads per missile. That's 160 nuclear warheads that can be targeted independently and can each cause substantial casualties if aimed at civilian targets. But that's what it's meant to be - a guaranteed "revenge" weapon, that is fully capable of demolishing or severely crippling a whole nation, even if ALL of the ground nukes are disabled by a first strike. The terror such a weapon commands, is precisely the reason why safety is assured.

            This is why small nuclear powers are so much less stable. India and Pakistan are at a much higher risk of using nuclear weapons in the field against each other than US and Russia, simply because neither of them have the capability of destroying the other.

            That being said, as has been mentioned previously, MAD relies on rational players to work.

            • Sure, but submarines are not totally safe. Lets say a group of people manage to board the ship and with some aid from some crew, hey, they have 160 nukes that can reach pretty much an entire continent or more. Or lets say two subs manage to crash into each other as had previously happened ( http://i.gizmodo.com/5154315/two-nuclear-submarines-collide-in-the-atlantic [gizmodo.com] ) and lets say for some reason some safety measures failed and if this happens in a populated area it becomes another Chernobyl even with an inc
              • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:48PM (#28846001)

                Sure, but submarines are not totally safe. Lets say a group of people manage to board the ship and with some aid from some crew, hey, they have 160 nukes that can reach pretty much an entire continent or more.

                Of course, unless one of the "some of the crew" include the Captain, they can't actually arm the weapons. And if they have the captain, well, there are other people they have to have, any one of which can make the weapons unusable.

                Plus, of course, the boats with the missiles are either underwater (and therefore the "group of people" can't reach it to take it over), or tied up alongside a subtender full of sailors and marines, in a port full of sailors and marines, all of whom have a very bad attitude about the notion of stealing a boomer.

                Or lets say two subs manage to crash into each other as had previously happened ( http://i.gizmodo.com/5154315/two-nuclear-submarines-collide-in-the-atlantic [gizmodo.com] [gizmodo.com] ) and lets say for some reason some safety measures failed and if this happens in a populated area it becomes another Chernobyl even with an incomplete detonation.

                Aside from this being impossible (there is no scenario where an "incomplete detonation" can occur - nukes have been present on aircraft that crashed without doing anything other than laying there), there aren't actually too many "populated areas" in the middle of the ocean where these boats spend their time.

                The USSR is no longer in power, and a nuke or two is all it takes to neutralize any potential other nuclear threat from a non-stable nation, so why risk it?

                Because the USSR isn't the only threat conceivable. It never was, and never will be.

                This ignoring the fact that there has never been an accidental detonation of a nuclear device, in ANY of the nuclear powers. So why assume that the risk is meaningful?

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Corbets (169101)

                  While I 100% agree with your post - nicely written, by the way - I can answer your last question. People get in hysterics about nuclear weapons not because the risk is high, but because the impact is.

                  In security, we use a calculation that goes something like this: Annualized loss expectancy is equal to likelihood times impact. Now, if you take that calculation for something like "getting hit by a bus", the impact is generally one person's life, so the likelihood has to be insanely high (call it 25000 percen

                  • People get in hysterics about nuclear weapons not because the risk is high, but because the impact is.

                    True enough. There are, after all, a lot of very stupid people in the world.

                    In security, we use a calculation that goes something like this: Annualized loss expectancy is equal to likelihood times impact. Now, if you take that calculation for something like "getting hit by a bus", the impact is generally one person's life, so the likelihood has to be insanely high (call it 25000 percent?) if it's going to

                • Because the USSR isn't the only threat conceivable. It never was, and never will be.

                  I must have dreamed about the Cuban missile crisis.

                  • ecause the USSR isn't the only threat conceivable. It never was, and never will be.

                    I must have dreamed about the Cuban missile crisis.

                    You must have missed the keyword "only"....

                • Aside from this being impossible (there is no scenario where an "incomplete detonation" can occur - nukes have been present on aircraft that crashed without doing anything other than laying there)

                  It's highly unlikely to trigger a nuclear warhead as a result of a crash or fire. However there is such a thing as partial detonation. Implosion type devices are very timing sensitive - it's one of the most tricky parts of the design; get that wrong and you get a "fizzle".

                  There are also variable yield weapons tha

                • by Thing 1 (178996)

                  This ignoring the fact that there has never been an accidental detonation of a nuclear device, in ANY of the nuclear powers.

                  Ah, but you do remember the accidental deployment, for which that top officer was fired over? When they flew nuclear weapons across the country without "knowing" about it?

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by RxScram (948658)
              All American SSBN's (Ohio Class) can actually carry 24 missiles, with a theoretical limit of 8 (or 12, depending on the source of information) W88 warheads, each warhead with a yield of 475 Kt. Of course, the START and SALT treaties limit the number of warheads per missile to something like 4, but it's still a mighty destructive force.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by johnsonav (1098915)

            That doesn't stop the US and a lot of other nuclear armed countries fitting nuclear weapons on just about everything that flies or sails.

            Nor should it.

            Really, having a few nuclear ICBMs is simply sane with other hostile countries. However, loading submarines with multiple warheads is not. If you must have nuclear armed subs, arm each one with one low-yield nuke. Any more and you are just begging for an accident.

            What you describe is not a credible nuclear deterrent. To be effective, a deterrent needs to make launching a first-strike so unthinkably catastrophic for the aggressor, that there would be no way to "win". If we implemented the kind of deterrent you advocate, a nuclear war would be "winnable", and much more likely.

            Remember, an accidental launch of a nuclear weapon is not the worst-case scenario.

      • You can fool some of the people some of the time, or all of the people all of the time. Unfortunately it seems that could be all that's needed...
    • There is no point to this. The whole reason for these two "articles" good old fearmongering, to push trough an agenda, that is most likely about money and power.
      The "reporter" profits from it. The "politican" profits from it. And we are the cattle that they need to do it.

      Every discussion about it, is by definition pointless.

      That should be clear from the wording of the "headline" alone.

    • by ijakings (982830)
      Am I the only one that thought of This [wikimedia.org] when you spoke of mental manipulation and nuclear silos?
    • by superwiz (655733)
      Ok, but jokes aside, War Games has already discussed all the sides of the issue. At least all the issues that come up with this particular vector of attack.
  • Perhaps we could set up a security protocal called Tic-Tac-Toe?

    Oh wait . . .

    "I'm afraid I can't do that Dave."

    OH SNAP!

  • Hard To Say (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:16PM (#28844605) Journal

    Without knowing how precisely nuclear arsenals, launch codes and the like are stored, I think it's really hard to say how likely or unlikely it is. I'd like to think that the systems and people involved are heavily secured, but if we look at some of the stuff that's gone walking out of a secured US facilities, sometimes you gotta wonder.

  • Didn't we already know that people are the weakest link? Well, except for the Windows servers on the nuclear subs.
    • And yet you fall for the social engineering that this "article" is?

      I guess the shoemaker has the worst shoes. ^^

  • ... are trying to impurify all of our precious bodily fluids !

    Bastards !

    yeah, that's my way of showing why I disagree with nuclear strikes, without repeating the same message that Kubrick's movie told us long time ago
    I assume my point here is pretty obvious (if you have seen the movie, of course.)
  • by Metasquares (555685) <slashdot.metasquared@com> on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:30PM (#28844757) Homepage
    Essentially the defense against this sort of exploit is "be less trigger-happy".
    • Or in other words: Think before you act.

      Who would have thought of that?? Me not. I'm to busy doing things. :P

  • This novel involved an acutal nuclear device, but the aim was not simple destruction, but to get the USA to think the Russians did it, and therefore to retaliate against them. I think it did a good job of illustrating how people can come up with the wrong conclusions when they have limited info and time. In this scenario, people also tended to think of just one possibility, instead of thinking about what else could be the cause. Especially hard under time pressure.
  • Terrorists just wait for the day the LA Lakers visit the White House to celebrate NBA Title with new teammate Ron Artest tagging along. Terrorists set off false alarm at White House. Artest freaks out, attacks Air Force officer carrying football, strips to his underwear, then runs around West Wing in his drawers. While entire Secret Service detail distracted chasing Artest, terrorists sneak into White House and takes football off arm of unconscious Air Force officer.

  • by jra (5600) on Monday July 27, 2009 @06:48PM (#28844939)

    the part of Sum of All Fears where we almost *do it to ourselves*: a major plot point hinges on one Good Guy mis-hearing "fifteen kt" as "one fifty kt" from another Good Guy -- the first being a potential terrorist nuke, while the second "would have to be" the Russians.

    There's followup as to how hard it is to push the *clean* data down the pipe afterwards as well.

    If that's not a sufficiently cautionary tale as to just how loose and messy things would actually be in a first-strike-response situation for you... then you're not imaginative enough, and probably much happier.

    It's amazing how hard it is to think when you think someone's about to nuke your country.

    It's somewhat analogous to the traditional election supervisor's prayer: "Please, dear Ghod, let it be a landslide".

    Only, um, in reverse.

    • by Tacvek (948259)

      If I recall the book correctly, it was a weapon that was supposed to be thermonuclear, but it was broken due to the bad guy's killing off the scientist a few seconds too soon (resulting in impure tritium being used). However, the reflection of the blast off the snow made the actual yield appear larger to the satellites.

      • by Yazeran (313637)

        You are right in that. In the book the 15 kT yield was due to He-3 contamination of the tritrium due to too long time 'on the shelf' in the scientist's basement (He was former east german nuclear scientist).

        Yours Yazeran

        Plan: To go to mars one day with a hammer.

  • I don't need a nuclear weapon to fight against cyber-terrorism. All I need is my pocket knife.

    Knife cuts fiber-optic cable. I win.

    Seriously, the simple answer is to disable their ability to connect to our computers. That doesn't take bombs, though bombs work just fine.

    Only a warmongering technophobe would resort to nuclear weapons.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Only a warmongering technophobe would resort to nuclear weapons.

      Indeed. We have plenty of modern weapons with the destructive capacity of a small nuclear device without the radioactive fallout that warmongering technophiles can use instead, such as Fuel Air bombs, which have the added advantage of being incendiary and causing fires which will burn long after the initial explosion. As for mass casualties, our warmongers will just have to be a little bit more patient civilians take time to die of their woun

    • Knife cuts fiber-optic cable. I win.

      Rock blunts knife. I win!

  • by ammorais (1585589) on Monday July 27, 2009 @07:22PM (#28845231)
    From the article:

    "Cyberspace is real, and so is the risk that comes with it,"

    Did someone stopped to think this is the kind of alarming news that can elevate simple computer hackers to dangerous international terrorists.

  • they would only need to be believable in the first 15 minutes or so

    Because the government moves that fast. Really.

  • a nice game of chess?
  • by DoctorMabuse (456736) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:03PM (#28845601) Homepage

    This paper shows a significant misunderstanding of the command and control structure and procedures at STRATCOM (formerly SAC), National Command Authority (NCA) and other key elements of the process. I am waiting for the author to explain how the attacker will obtain the encryption codes to MILSTAR, SLFCS or any of the other communication channels into a Minuteman Launch Control Facility or the equivalent communication channels going to bomber squadrons, submarines and other force components with nuclear capability. Then there are enable codes, launch codes and various other keys that would be needed. The article also fails to address safeguards in place. One needs to only examine the "incidents" that have occurred in real life, such as a exercise tape accidentally being loaded at SAC, prompting incoming ICBM warnings, to see that these procedures worked even 20 or 30 years ago, and they hve only been improved since then.

    Having worked on the unauthorized launch studies for Peacekeeper (the decommissioned ICBM system often referred as MX), I can tell you the author did not have the data needed to be able to conduct this study, much less draw any valid conclusions

    • by EdIII (1114411) *

      I would bet the author thought the machines were running on Windows XP/Vista hooked up to the Intarwebs.

      People are constantly underestimating how hard it is to even send a packet on military or secure government fiber, satellite, etc in the first place. It's not as easy as the movies make it out be, and Matthew Broderick could have never dialed up a modem connected to W.O.P.R

      News articles are misleading too. People think that when they hear the Pentagon was hacked, it means that the *really* important stu

    • The purpose is to conflate hacker with terrorist.

      so hackers == terrorists in the minds of the people and politicians.

      Could you justify draconian laws against teenage nuisances? It's much easier to create the laws you need against indefensible groups; paedophiles, terrorists etc. So you just need to make more people into terrorists and paedophiles.

      Your standard propaganda.

  • maybe if they hack into WOPR.

  • Wasn't this a huge part of Sum of All Fears and Red Storm Rising?

    Why *ISN'T* Tom Clancy one of Obama-lhama's defense Czars?
    • by u38cg (607297)
      Because he would spend all his time wanking off over military hardware and inventing elaborate subplots involving misogynistic sex with a combat barbie.
  • There was a story some time ago saying that the US military suspected Ahmed Chalabi of being an Iranian double agent who deliberately fed the USA government bad intel on Iraq to start a war that would destabilize the region and benefit Iran and the Shiites. I saw that story in the print news (I don't watch TV, so I can't speak to that) for about 2 days, and then it vanished.

    Anyway, the war in Iraq certainly helped anti-US elements (Al Quaeda etc) with finances and recruitment. It removed Saddam Hussein

  • In summary, the article claims that the destructive power of nuclear weapons is not matched by the security and safeguards in place to prevent mistaken use. While the story uses "terrorists" as the universal boogie-man (and presumably to sucker in more readers and spread a bit more FUD in the process), there's nothing here that would have stopped them saying "criminal mastermind" or "sufficiently resourced private individual" either. However, those terms would put an entirely different spin on the article.

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