Monday, February 14, 2011

If I were a jihadist, Part II

In my November 15th "If I were a jihadist" post, my 5th scenario for a game spoiler was to "Take down the Internet." Specifically, I said:
Take down the Internet. Come on, you can blame this one on Christian Fanatics who believe that the beast referred to in the Bible (Revelation 13:17) is really the Internet (the "number of the beast" is 666, which in Hebrew is "www" which…well, you get it). Whack every DNS (Domain Name Server) system in the world with a pro-Christian/anti-Israel "goodbye world" shut-down message.
The item from my daily technology bible, Kurzweil News,  pointed at the New Scientist Tech story: The cyberweapon that could take down the Internet by the University of Minnesota's Max Schuchard and his colleagues. Unfortunately, their conclusion that an Internet meltdown is not necessarily inevitable is, to me, just silly. For enough money, the guys who rent out their botnets would do it. But more likely, a rogue government like North Korea would do it in a heartbeat, especially since they don't as thoroughly depend upon the Internet for Infrastructure communication as do the countries who actually have lights that can be seen from a satellite in the dark. It is also conceivable that the Iranians would consider this, especially after seeing what student-led demands for democracy have accomplished in Egypt (I do not believe that Iran is in as much control of the Egyptian meltdown as do some of the conservative commentators).

Iran may, in fact, resort to the (cyber) nuclear option when their own social meltdown begins. Accentuating this hypothesis is Friday's New York Times story further detailing the extent of Stuxnet penetration in five Iranian sites. Put yourself in Grand Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Hoseyni Khamenei's position. His compound is surrounded by a mob of angry students, the military is taking their game plan from the Egyptians and holding back (giving some students rides on their tanks), and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is calling every two minutes, yelling explicatives and pulling out large tufts of his beard. Chances are one of the top five "goodbye world" options would be to bring down The Great Satan's Internet. And there are easier ways to bring down the Internet that the mechanism suggested by Dr. Schuchard and his buddies.

The ability of Stuxnet (as reported in the New York Times article) to report on the location and type of each computer infected allows me to give Stuxnet a partial-compliance mark in maintaining Institutional Memory, which is principle #21 of The Perfect Virus. I have there updated my Virus Report Card of February 7th accordingly. 

For those of you who are musically inclined, you might sing the following lyrics to Bobby Darin's If I Were A Carpenter:

If I were a jihadist, 
and you were al qaedis
Would you tarry in Te-hr-an?
And help me kill babies?

If I soaked my hands in blood,
would you still love me?
Would you help me pull the plug?
And sign it Khamenei? 
So take your pick. One way or another the Internet is probably going to cease to exist as we know it. Either because of a physical pygmy in North Korea or a mental pygmy in Tehran. And remember, in a world full of emotional pygmies, the patient man is king. And while we're being patient, we might come up with a "Plan B" for climbing out of the ashes after Internet doomsday. Several military science fiction authors have dealt with this scenario, which I will cover in tomorrow's post.


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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?