Cyber Warfare, Systems of Thought, and Threats to Critical Infrastructure

Date: 23 Dec 2018 Category : | Author: Graham Penrose

As you increase the distance, and by distance I mean knowledge, between people and their means of survival you are more or less dooming people to the acts of externals and an uncertain fate.

In 21st century Europe the EU is not working and as Brexit has shown, the abstraction that has occurred over the last 45 years in the political landscape means that interconnected bureaucracies cannot even be effectively dismantled to allow control to revert back to a sovereign nation.

The problem in the technology domain is exponentially more challenging and threatening with respect to interconnected systems. Vast amounts of the mundane technology, with their simple yet very important technological dependencies, live at the heart of and are the support systems for our generally functioning societies. They do not deliver luxury items. The luxury items are the convenience elements.

Social media and access to a search engine are luxury items in this landscape. The scale of reaction to an outage on a social network is a perfectly adequate way to extrapolate the scale of reaction or the impact on society to the removal of light, heat, telecommunications, or payment systems for example. Even for 72 hours. In disaster recovery planning in the 80s there were a number of rules of thumb which were generally accepted. One of them was that after 5 days of continuous outage in the IT infrastructure of a successful bank that a viable recovery under the current ownership was not possible. I am quite sure that a viable recovery from the effects of 5 days continuous loss of light, heat, telecommunications and payment systems for example is not possible within the frameworks that allowed it to occur.

The enormous threat to general law and order is obvious but the psychological impact on the affected population would be quite tremendous. Remember there is now an entire generation of Western youth and young adults who do not know of a different experience.

Some people will say that was the case with any generation that was the the first to live in a society that had undergone fundamental change. But that is not the case now. The changes now are so fundamental and ingrained not just in the lifestyles of society but in its core supports that the dependence on them is almost absolute.

Another important factor is that most people who inhabit those societies are unaware of the knife edge on which the core support systems of their “stable” existence is balanced.

The Gilets Jaunes marched all over France and parts of Belgium yesterday and much of what happened and is happening was suppressed. That is a function of fear in the establishment. It is also a symptom of an inherent weakness in a system of thought.

If you utterly believe in a theory or an ideology regarding the improvement of your general well being or that of societies but you are suffering as a result of applying the principles of the theory or ideology in your own life then you have a large scale problem on two fronts. One is that your theory or ideology is incorrect. The second is your reaction to that knowledge. Your reaction can be to acknowledge your error and correct it (rare, especially rare if the sunk costs (moral, ideological, and financial) of implemention was high or the cost of retreat is large) OR you can choose to ignore the gross outcomes of your theory or ideology in favour of tinkering around the edges and hoping that it will all work out.

The scale and reach of cyberweapons has been played down. Much like the Yellow Vest movement, and the general dissatisfaction levels and conflicts within societies in the West, the powers that be have no choice but to delay, deny, and deflect. The threat from cyberwarfare targeting our weakest and yet at the same time most important societal support systems is so daunting that it is impossible for most people to visualize what it actually means. In government the concept of facing into the problem has atrocious consequences for the general stability of society and the confidence of people in the ability of societies current mechanisms and leaders or groups of leaders to manage their security and safety.

Many, many connections in the physical world generally meant strength and that is how most people view the world. Knots in a rope, mooring ropes on a boat, hands pulling a load, parties to a treaty, allies in a coalition, and so on. The exact opposite is of course true in technology that underpins physical and critical infrastructure.

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