Cyberpunk Review » American Infrastructure (and the Internet) Threatened By…

April 9, 2009

American Infrastructure (and the Internet) Threatened By…

Source: Wired unless specified.


A Wall Street Journal report claims that spies have planted malware in America’s power grid systems with the possible intent of mass disruption of key infrastructures like electricity and communications. The timing couldn’t be better with a recent introduction of a bill that would allow President Barack Obama the “authority” to kill the Internet.


An electrical botnet?

(Wall Street Journal) - Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.

The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven’t sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.

That’s the claim made in today’s (08-Apr-09) Wall Street Journal, but events going at least one month back is casting some serious doubts on those claims, IMO anyway. While it’s possible for foreign malware to be present in key systems, it seems more like the real threat is domestic.

Here’s the timeline so far. Take it with a grain of salt if you must, and accept the hypertension:


Department of Homeland Security Cyber Chief quits due to NSA hostile takeover (09-Mar-09)

Wired - Rod Beckstrom was head of National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), but quit over what he felt was pressure from the NSA to take over US cybersecurity. More information can be found here and here.

Beckstrom also expressed a concern over the NSA’s attempt to consolidate its power:

In his resignation letter, Beckstrom said the NSA is trying to move the NCSC to its base at Ft. Meade in Maryland, a move he opposes on grounds that it would concentrate too much authority in one place.

“The issue is that we have a federated government, decentralized for a reason,” Beckstrom told Forbes. “Our founding fathers never believed that power should be concentrated in one place. And what today is more powerful than information?”


Fat Cat Rockefeller says “The Internet Should Never Have Existed” (20-Mar-09)

YouTube via Prison Planet via C-Span 2.

WARNING: The contents of this video may make you want to vomit, laugh until you shit bricks, or shoot Rockefeller. Cyberpunk Review will not be held responsible for your physical and mental state of mind if you watch. Viewer discretion is advised:

Actually, Rockefeller doesn’t say the net should have never existed; Another congress-critter makes that implication.

“Cybersecurity Bill” would allow President Obama to shut down the Internet (02-Apr-09)

NetworkWorld - On April 1, a proposal legislation was introduced to the Senate that would allow Obama wide powers to shut down the Internet, or at least take control over it during times of “cybersecurity emergency.” Here’s the direct link to the PDF of the proposed legislation if you want to read it. The bill was introduced by none other than Senator John Rockefeller (see video above).


Salute the False Flag. A year ago, the CIA claimed hackers hacked foreign utilities. Those “claims” have yet to be backed up by actual press reports. But that claim was probably forged to get additional powers to spy.

Wired’s Kevin Poulsen puts the screws to the Wall Street Journal and the NSA in this brief op-ed piece.

Sadly, this new installment doesn’t contain the kind of juicy details that made the previous one so easy to debunk. In fact, it contains almost no details at all. The attacks are “pervasive,” and yet not a single utility company is named as a victim. Even better, the blackout-triggering malware hasn’t been spotted by the companies — which explains perfectly why this is the first we’ve heard of it. Only America’s intelligence community has seen the code. They could show us, but then they’d have to kill us.

It’s an unusually opportune time for this revelation, since the NSA is at this very moment jockeying to take over cyber security from DHS, which lacks the wholesale warrantless-wiretapping capabilities needed to detect Chinese hackers. What a lucky coincidence of timing that this exciting, if uncheckable, story should emerge now.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


UPDATE: Fiber Cables Cut in Silicon Valley, Reward Being Offered. (10-Apr-09)

San Francisco Gate - Sometime in the early hours of April 9, a person or group cut AT&T’s fiber optic lines serving the Silicon Valley area, leaving thousands without phone and net services including critical 911. Sabotage is suspected and AT&T is offering a reward of $250K US for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the saboteurs.

There’s already speculation that the work was done by the Communications Workers of America, a union that’s negotiating a new contract with AT&T:

Special News Bureau - AT&T is in the middle of acrimonious negotiations with the Communications Workers of America, whose members have been working without a contract since just before midnight Saturday and are on standby mode for a potential strike.

A new website, is already calling the sabotage a false-flag attack; AT&T cut the cables to frame the union. They may have the right idea, but name the wrong targets.


April 9, 2009

Malovane said:

This all seems analogous to a certain game I’ve recently played:
….You could literally replace certain character names with their real-life counterparts from these articles, plus scenarios (remember the centralization of the Internet at Area 51?).

Too bad this isn’t a game, it’s people’s lives and the roots of an insidious totalitarianism in our ubiquitous information age, driven by the wealthy elite who feel the need to move faster than anticipated due to the legions of their underling bankers who fubarred their investment stockpiles.

r4v said:

Ok, so the “spies” come from China, Russia and other countries… there is of course absolutly no chances that the “spies” were hiding behind malware-infected zombies coming from these countries, that’s a lot less probable than Russia, China and these other countries to unite in an effort to plant malwares the american electric infrastructure…
The ones who should be worried should be the ones who connected such a critical system to the internet in the first place, not the typical american citizen who see once again his liberties shrinking.

April 12, 2009

Anonymous said:

Could all this be a false flag ?

0m1kr0n said:

The new thing in malware development isn’t advance packers and kernel table mods, but advanced DNS techniques that obfuscate the control nodes through many layers of abstraction. A simple DLL dropper propagated via a SMTP engine goes a long way this way as current botnets have proven.

Using these DNS techniques you can code shitty clients that are just a DLL or whatever and all that can be done is vendor responses because the people who defend consumers against them can’t remotely modify the clients machine unless they have a software solution running on it with a updates and a license agreement including acknowledgment of it.

I do embedded implementation software engineering in rl. I’m not surprised by this stuff. I see foreign developers get flown in every month, and security clearance is blatantly easy to get in the US as long as you have credentials and a trademark based contract.

April 14, 2009

theo said:

Hey I have an idea: let’s plug all our critical infrastructure systems into the internet so we can control it remotely! Better yet, let’s connect all our weapons systems to it, too! OH, and how about connecting our military command structure to the internet, too?

Better yet, I’ll simply invent the gun that will shoot your own foot off for you.

0m1kr0n said:

I don’t think it was done through remote software vulnerabilities. I think it was done by poor employment choices.

It’s still dumb to have a nations defense grid and energy control infrastructure on routed WAN where the services can accept public requests though.

What you gotta remember is the government doesn’t pay people who do rootkit research of vulnerability tracking to implement anything. They pay text book IT people to come in and do generic layouts of everything. Most of there innovation is in software algorithms by engineers and mathematicians that have nothing to do with this, and that is usually in DSP->Data Entry&Sorting.

I don’t know is what it is..

May 4, 2009

nullorama said:

Hehe we’re living a cold war, a war of information. I don’t get WHY the government of the US complains about being spied on if THEY ARE SPYING ALL OVER THE WORLD. Oh but yes!, they spy on us with authority that they gave themselves! and honestly, i do not belive that it really matters if the spy network is Chinese, Russian or whatever the country is, they are so paranoid that they will blame a WHOLE NATION only cause one man peeked into some files but as far as i know, there is NO secure network in the world, it works through channels and layers, example: the tv, the radio transmits information via electromagnetic waves sent through the air/space, THAT is the internet, what they call “invented internet” are only devices to access and send information through the real internet, that internet always existed and no one can take over it sooo…. if some one is gonna shut it down, some one smart enough can still attack them

July 4, 2009

koffeeadikt said:

What is really *#$#!#$!$ enfuriating is that these dipsh!ts can’t quite recall why “the Internet” exists. It was a military project to create reliable networks in times of war. Using “the Web” synonymously with “the Internet” simply shows that the people with power have no idea how the world works or what the hell they are talking about.

Yes, of COURSE people are looking at ways of fighting back against a culture and people who have shown a penchant for global domination (Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Panama, Grenada, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the U.S. has bases in the vast majority of the world and imposes its financial will on others with those bases). The way I see it, the Internet (in the correct usage) was developed as a way of facilitating weapons sysstems and weapons deliver, and…hmm…funny….it actually kinda sorta works. The genie is almost impossible to put back in the bottle ;-), as both the Chinese and Iranians have discovered ;-).

Interesting that when a technology comes along that allows the serfs to communicate and act independently of the mannor lords, the lords get all uppity and start screaming “the SKY is FALLING!”

July 7, 2009

Stormtrooper of Death said:

Who cares about the internet, i still have my old BBS system stand-by, when the internet does not work. We even have 27mc radio digital hamradio systems, when all systems fail.

It is a good idea to keep your old BBS systems locked up, and use them in case of total fail of the internet. Fidonet used BBS in the last century (20th century), so, it doesnt bother me a lot of the internet is destroyed. Actually, maybe, it comes back again, the fun we had, as hackers, phone phreaks, coders, etc. to once again, after a huge war or dystopic shitty thing, that after so many years we log in via our phone modem and type
ATDT ‘phonenumber’

Bulletin board systems, independant of the internet.

(yeah sounds strange, but when the internet is shut down, we still have our phone lines, and our ham-radios to communicate digital)

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