It is hard to get off a planet


Just about finished Misha Glenny’s book, DARKMARKET: Cyberthieves, Cybercops and You.  It’s about a whole new world of evil out there – cyberspace.

‘Course the idea of this isn’t new to any of us.  I suppose we have all had our credit cards compromised at one time or another by some nefarious wrong-doer but, after reading Glenny’s book, Cyber-evil is now perceived (by me, anyway) as a much larger threat than simply defrauding a bank or two.  These bad hacker-boys are into cyber warfare as well.

That can get out of hand.

If it hasn’t already.

I’ll just make one point:  The Pentagon has had four traditional theatres of war – naval, air, space and ground.  Now they have five.  They officially class cyberspace as a ‘theatre’.  It is that bad.  And it is not like the Americans to simply limit their actions to defense of their borders, now is it?  And, anyway, where are the borders in globalization and cyber-space?  There just may be a bit of cyber aggression going on out there.

And not just by them.  Seems the Russians are really ‘into it’ and so are the Chinese and the Israelies.

Shades of the Cold War, eh?  Feeling a chill………..?

You should.

But don’t let me mislead you into thinking this is just a nation-state thing.  It ain’t.  It could be a sub-group and that can get personal in strange and weird ways.  Some years ago, Estonia invited the wrath of Russians (don’t ask – too stupid – about statues, for God’s sake) and Russians ‘cyber-attacked’ the most computer savvy country in the world (on a per capita basis).  Estonia was relatively prepared and held off the botnets, worms, trojans, viruses and DDoS for over ten days before having to shut down the countries Internet system.  They were brought to their knees, virtually speaking.

That ten day war cost Estonia millions.  Maybe more.  It cost the central bank there, Hansabank, almost $15M to keep their doors open for business and two other main banks had to close.  Much of the country’s economy was in ‘hunker-down’ mode.  Not much got done.

But did Russia do it?  Certainly Russians did it but did the nation state of Russia do it?  Did Putin authorize it?  Maybe it was just angry young hackers…who knows?  No one knows for sure but it has been discovered that the attack on just the Hansabank came by way of 80,000 separate computers focusing on Estonian servers.  And there was more attacked than just the bank.  Those computers were ‘Shanghaied’ into service.  Those who Shanghai are hackers.  It is entirely possible (tho somewhat unlikely) that my and Sally’s computers were conscripted against their will to attack Estonia by cyberforces.  We wouldn’t even know.

“Geez, Dave, what has that got to do with living off the grid?  Especially if you are telling me that the definition of the ‘grid’ now officially includes the Internet.  Doesn’t that mean that you really aren’t off the grid, after all?”

So it would seem.  In the immortal words of Al Pacino as the Godfather, Michael Corleone, “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in”.

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