USAF Carpet Bombing Cyberspace
Washington, DC, May 25th, 2008 -- The USAF has probably killed more American Soldiers with Carpet Bombing from B-52's over the years than were killed by the Soviet Union. Now in the proof that Dr. Strangelove is alive and well after the golden days of Strategic Air Command Air Force Col. Charles Williamson, in an article that appeared in the May issue of Armed Forces Journal, said the Air Force should take a “carpet bombing” approach to offensive operations in cyberspace. From the Blogs:
Williamson, staff judge advocate for the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, suggested that the service imitate hackers and develop its own force of botnets -- thousands of computers controlled by a signal source -- to attack adversaries.
The cyber warfare strategy could backfire, according to an analyst who served in a top Defense Department post. Philip Coyle, who served as assistant secretary of Defense and director of its operational test and evaluation office from 1994 to 2001, said he does not believe the Air Force has “thought through the ‘arms control’ implications of this work. Once the Air Force starts attacking . . . all hell could break loose.
The suggestion appears to be that the military should keep all it's lowest bid scrap computers and begin infecting innocent citizens of the United States, and around the world with malicious software that can be commanded to attack anyone at the will of someone in the US Air Force. At this point watching the movie "War Games" is appropriate.
For if the military can devise a cyber botnet, some enterprising hacker will learn how to crack it and use the whole attack machine to do untold damage to commerce, or lease it to the Russian Mafia for Porn. Imagine if the biggest distributor of Kiddie Porn was found to be the United States Air Force.
I know that it is good for promotion to write Gung Ho pieces for the Armed Forces. When you are sitting in a comfortable chair, in air conditioned offices in the Good Old US of A, it's hard to claim combat experience, even cyber warfare. But please, write about something that is realistic. Cyber Warfare is very real, and very dangerous to play with, especially when you have more to lose, and less to gain than your opponent.
I have been warning about the vulnerability of US Critical Computer Infrastructure for over ten years. Y2K showed us how vulnerable it was. Instead of protecting ourselves against Asymmetric Warfare as laid out in 1999 Bush chose to let Cheney make the policy and we invaded Iraq. The end product was to piss off most of the world, and alienate the rest.
The suggestion of using scrap lowest bid, and out of date computers is a novel idea. The question is how many scrap computers do you need to take on all the people we have alienated, considering they may have state-of-the-art computers that can beat the crap out of ours in a one for one battle. Also consider how many start points a Cyber Riot can originate from students and computer geeks in sympathy with the original cyber threat you have decided to Carpet Bomb. Now take Blue Pins for USAF facilities, and a Red Pin for every "Enemy" computer responding to an orchestrated call to respond to American Cyber Aggression.
Clue: You don't need many blue pins, but a truckload of red ones, and a very big map on a sturdy wall to accommodate the red pins.
The time is for very open and intensive discussion, like we did with Y2K, to bring the entire computer culture together in finding an effective solution. It may mean Balkanization of the Internet, as I proposed in the mid 1990's. What it will not need is the US Air Force grabbing a new role now the Strategic Air Command days are a distant memory of the Cold War.
And what happens if the threat comes from within the United States? Will the USAF Carpet Bomb New York, Los Angeles, Washington and the other major cities, which show up as originating sites of a cyber attack. You think the Chinese and Russians, who have been doing this for a lot longer than the USAF, haven't got "sleeper" servers and routing to launch their attacks from inside the enemies camp?
If you insist in coming to the Play late, please read up on what happened in the First Act.
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