Monday, June 4, 2012

Flame virus and its "data exhaust"

Within a week of finding out about the Flame virus currently turning every computer in the Middle East into a multi-media international broadcast station, the Obama administration "newspaper of record" (see the New York Times story here) confirms that the Bush and Obama administrations have been waging cyberwar on Iran. Clearly, this story ran with administration approval. One might draw several conclusions from this "data exhaust" news:

  1. The Obama administration thinks they're going to turn this militancy into a political asset for the 2012 election, logic going something like: "Since the Russians and the Chinese already knew full well the source of Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, and probably a dozen other still-covert cyber adventures, they only entity we were really keeping in the dark was the American public."
  2. The Israelis are about to drop the hammer on the Iranian nuclear program, and the Obama administration wanted their "newspaper of record" to build the case that, "Doggone it, we did everything we knew how to do to keep this terrible day from coming."
The trouble with the above logic is that Clinton had a pretty good idea with his "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military. President Obama should have applied it in the cyberwar arena. Since we haven't publicly debated our cyberwar doctrine, we have lost the moral high ground and opened the door to every third-rate jihadist with a laptop and a satellite link to yell, "Allah game on akbar!" Not to mention that it's doubly hard for us to keep a straight face as we condemn China's cyber adventurism or Russia's deification of their own underworld Darth Vaders (see my post one such culprit here).

I know, I know. My answer is, of course, that we should publicly debate the merits of licensed and bonded cyber privateers to keep the peace. But beyond my continuing campaign to consider such possibilities, I have a prediction. Simply, the above "data exhaust" suggests that Israeli bunker busters are much closer than they appear in Iran's rearview mirror. Selah.