Tag Archives: espionage

O NOES! Infrastructure hakz0rz!

network switchesSo, the big red-hot knee-jerk story of the week is surely the suggestion that there’s a possibility that maybe some foreign countries are thinking about whether it would be worth hacking the poorly-secured United States power grid infrastructure with computer intrusion techniques. Maybe.

… multiple countries are believed to be behind the attacks, including both the Russians and the Chinese. Some of these were apparently detected and stopped before any damage could be done, while the remains of others (and tools designed to trigger failures) have been found in other areas. The article doesn’t give specific information on where issues were and weren’t detected, or which infrastructures were contaminated, but the list of “at-risk” institutions include electric plants (particularly nuclear ones), financial networks, and water management/treatment facilities.

Credit where it’s due, Ars Technica isn’t going to flap its arms and panic like some other news sources:

The Internet is merely the latest—and by most measures, the most benign—means by which one country could attack another. Personally, given the choice between ICBMs, chemical weapons, “the bomb”, or V-2 rockets, I’ll take the Internet.

Amen. Bruce Schneier agrees:

Honestly, I am much more worried about random errors and undirected worms in the computers running our infrastructure than I am about the Chinese military. I am much more worried about criminal hackers than I am about government hackers.

Right. And why worry about complex hacks when a crew with some industrial tools can wipe out the data grid for a whole region?

Ten fiber-optic cables carrying were cut at four locations in the predawn darkness. Residential and business customers quickly found that telephone service was perhaps more laced into their everyday needs than they thought. Suddenly they couldn’t draw out money, send text messages, check e-mail or Web sites, call anyone for help, or even check on friends or relatives down the road.

Several people had to be driven to hospitals because they were unable to summon ambulances. Many businesses lapsed into idleness for hours, without the ability to contact associates or customers.

The dogs in your own backyard are more likely to bite you than your neighbour’s. [image by jonbell]

Iranians accost GPS-equipped spy-squirrels?

squirrelThe news out of the Middle East just gets weirder by the day – often with an animal flavour to it, so it seems. Less than a fortnight after the British military had to deny deploying a crack team of attack badgers into Basra, the Iranian government has announced that they have captured a number of squirrels with GPS and other spying kit embedded in their bodies. I’m very skeptical as to how true this story will turn out to be, but it’s still one hell of a headline. [Image by Ogwen]

Spying bugs take wing

Robot insect from Harvard University

The bugs used by spies and spooks have just taken a step closer to resembling their namesakes. Harvard University engineers have produced a life-size robotic fly that uses the same mechanical principles as living insects to get around. Its potential utility as a surveillance platform is obvious enough, and as the article notes, it might make a useful mobile sensor for hazardous or inaccessible locations … but I wonder what uses the street will find for this sort of technology once they can be fabbed cheaply en masse? I’m thinking advertising. [Gizmodo]