Nettime mailing list archives

ricardo dominguez on Mon, 6 Aug 2001 15:30:46 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]



Wayne Madsen

30 July 2001

Washington, DC

Here we go again folks. The White House,
NSA, and National Infrastructure Protection
Center (NIPC) are warning of a dangerous
new Internet worm called "Code Red." We've
been here before. Just last year, we were all
treated to the impending doom caused by a
series of "Distributed Denial of Service
Attacks" that resulted in a host of web sites
going down. Imagine the disruption to the
nation's infrastructure caused by someone's
failure to auction off their great
grandmother's curios on e-Bay.

Conveniently, a few weeks after the dreaded
attacks on the dot coms (many of which are
now dot gones  and it wasn't a result of
 hackers), President Clinton hosted a
cyber-security roundtable at the White
House. The gloom and doom sayers pointed
out why the nation was on the verge of an
"electronic Pearl Harbor." Chief among them
was Richard Clarke, the National Security
Council's "Dr. Strangelove" of cyber-security.

However, it is not an e-Pearl Harbor we must
be concerned about but an e-Reichstag Fire.
Back in 1933, Hitler's Propaganda Minister
Joseph Goebbels, a pioneer of perception
management, hired a bunch of Nazi hooligans
to burn down the Reichstag. The next day,
while the German Parliament was still
 smoldering, the Nazis passed the Reichstag
 Decree, which effectively relegated the
German Constitution and all of its civil liberty
  provisions to the toilet.

 But would the United States take advantage
 of such a situation in cyber-space to advance
 a secret agenda? They've probably already
 done so. Back in 1988, the Internet was
  treated to its first worm. Programmed and
  launched by Robert Morris, Jr., the worm
   crippled hundreds of thousands of computers
 connected to the Internet. It just so
happened that young Mr. Morris's dad was
the Chief Scientist at NSA  during a period
when the agency was feverishly trying to test
the vulnerabilities of various operating
systems and application programs.

But that was then, and Code Red is now. We
are told that Code Red only affects web sites
relying on Windows NT and Windows 2000.
Of course, why would any self-respecting
24-hour cable news network want to show a
housewife trying to struggle with a
virus-infected home computer operating
Windows 95? Better to capture viewers'
attention with hordes of computer
programmers and managers wrestling with
downed web sites at Ford, Xerox, Charles
Schwab, and Amazon.com.

And that's the way the government (and
apparently Microsoft) wants it. Microsoft, the
humbled post-anti trust suit corporate giant,
seems to be cozying up with the Feds and
their cyber-security agenda as of late. At a
recent Interagency Technical Forum at the
National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST), Microsoft's director of
Mobile Code Security revealed that Microsoft
now maintains a full-time resident office at
NSA headquarters with a fully-cleared staff.

Even the term Code Red is a red herring. Just
like Distributed Denial of Service attack, it is
more out of the Pentagon's lexicon than that
of computer crackers. Code Red is just too
campy  seems like it belongs in the same
league with the movies "Deep Impact" and
"Armageddon." But Code Red is just the kind
of term that might impress our otherwise
attention deficit disordered President.
Computer crackers, of course, like to be a bit
more original and artsy, opting for terms like
"Melissa," "Back Orifice," and "Michaelangelo"
How many original code names ever came out
of NSA? "Echelon," for example. Boring! Now
Code Red, that's something that could have
been conjured up by the Faulkners of the

Why the Code Red hoopla? Well, in a few
weeks, President Bush (with Dick Cheney
looming over his shoulder) will be issuing a
new Executive Order on Cyber-Security. He
will appoint an inter-agency Cybersecurity
and Continuity of Operations Board and his
current cyber-security guru Clarke stands a
good chance of being selected chairman. If
so, Clarke will have transcended three
administrations in essentially the same
executive branch job  a record surpassed
only by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. And
tomorrow NIPC head Ron Dick gets a jump
start on things with a press conference on
cyber security at the National Press Club.
Hyping Code Red is a sure fire way to ensure
the conference is covered by all the talking
head networks. And it does not hurt that
today, while FBI Director designate Robert
Mueller is fielding some questions on what
the FBI will do on cyber security during his
Senate conformation hearings, Code Red is a

Coming on the heels of the G8 Summit in
Genoa, Code Red also bolsters one of the
items on the agenda of the leaders. It was at
the G8 Summit in Lyon in 1996, that the
leaders first put cyber crime on their docket, a
decision that was ultimately manifested in the
Council of Europe's soon-to-be-enacted
Cyber Crime Treaty. When enacted, the
treaty will enable police agencies to reach
beyond borders to seize Internet
communications record traffic. The
anti-globalization Genoa Social Forum got a
taste of what is to come when Italian police
stormed their headquarters and seized
computer disks and Inte rnet traffic records.
This past April, the FBI, acting on behalf of
the Canadian police, seized similar records
from the Independent Media Center in
Seattle after the Summit of the Americas in
Quebec. Not to be outdone by his peers,
British Prime Minister Tony Blair  who
resembles Big Brother more and more every
day  hurried back to London to urge
Parliament to pass a bill that would equate
computer hacking with terrorism.

Perception Management actually was part
and parcel of the agenda of the same coterie
of Pentagon brass and Beltway Bandits who
dreamt up information warfare in the first
place. They knew to be successful, the public
would have to be force fed large diets of
disinformation and sensationalized news.
Ah,Dr. Goebbels would be so proud of them.

So in the meantime, we should all head for
hills. Because just like Y2K, our government
says our American Way of life is threatened
by unknown computer toxins. Time to erect
our Computer Defense Shield.

Fear is the greatest weapon but the truth is
the greater defense!

Not getting the media bounce from the 8:00
PM EST Code Red meltdown hour on July 31
(nothing happened!), the FBI began spinning
the story the very next morning that 22,000
computers had been hit with Code Red.
Considering that viruses and worms probably
strike many more computers than that on any
given day, 22,000 is a relatively low number.

The cyber-security perception management
machinery was also put into high gear in the
August 1 edtion of The Washington Times. A
story by Ben Barber hyped the threat posed
by Palestinian computer users who have
launched a so-called "cyber-Jihad" against
Israeli government and corporate computers.
The article states that the U.S.
government-funded firms RAND and iDefense
are urging the United States to adopt the
same cyber defenses as those used in Israel.
And the article gives us the potential next
phase of the U.S. government's perception
management campaign: Palestinian sites will
start distributing viruses aimed at the United
States -- one Palestinian site is blamed for
distributing the Love Bug and Melissa viruses.
If one remembers, however, Love Bug
originated in the Philippines while Melissa
came from Trenton, New Jersey. They are a
long way off from Nablus and Ramallah on the
West Bank.

Even in pseudo cyber-war, the truth is the
greatest casualty!


Nettime-bold mailing list
Nettime-bold {AT} nettime.org