back to article US accused of hypocrisy over cyber warfare

Recent warnings of a "cyber–Pearl Harbor" by US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others are hypocritical, according to a leading security expert, given that the US is responsible for most of the online attacks so far uncovered. "If we look for offensive cyber attacks that have been linked back to a known government, we …

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  1. FormerKowloonTonger
    Holmes

    Methinks it's an easy epithet...."hypocritical".....to be hurling about....if the man there inside Finland had the responsibility which Panetta is shouldering he would also be probing with cyber "attacks" to poke around here and there to keep abreast of what the muzzies are up to.

    The idea is to protect one's water supply, power infrastructure, banking systems.....if that requires some "attacking" probes to forestall a major effort on the part of the "mis-understanders of Islam", then so be it.

    Maybe the Finn is the "hypocrite"?

    1. Ole Juul

      excuses

      Banking I understand, but I'm not in the habit of getting my water or power off the internet. There is no reason for these utilities to not operate securely and out of physical reach of foreign countries. One has to wonder why these things would be exposed, or even if they really are.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        Re: excuses

        "There is no reason for these utilities to not operate securely and out of physical reach of foreign countries. "

        But it would probably cost *more*.

        A vicious attack on the company profits is *much* more severe than some foreign govt/ex-employee/random blackmailer cutting off your water supply or causing you toilets to overflow (IIRC that happened in Australia but I could be wrong).

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: excuses

        The national grid has a control room where they monitor demand for electricity and the output from all the various power stations, wind turbines and so on. They use this information combined with things like weather forecasts, TV schedules and so on to switch things on and off as needed. Eg, if the World Cup final goes into extra time, then all the nations's kettles will be switched on a bit later than previously predicted. How do they get this information in and out of the control centre? My guess is the internet is involved somewhere.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: excuses@jonathanb

          "The national grid ...... How do they get this information in and out of the control centre? My guess is the internet is involved somewhere."

          Well, contrary to popular belief, most utilities worked perfectly well before the internet came along. More relevant to electricity, live feeds of the sort the web might provide are of no use in managing power generation - you need your power plants spinning in hot reserve, ready to go at a couple of seconds notice for demand peaks, and the way you achieve that is by predicting demand, based on things like weather forecasts, TV schedules, and historic demand, and so forth. You can get those from the web, but if the web is down then you'd buy a newspaper or turn on the telly (or if you're National Grid you have the met office fax you their forecast, and the TV operators likewise).

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: excuses

          Do they need a network: YES.

          Do they have to use the Internet: NO.

          It's just less expensive that leased lines for them to use ipsec ( or maybe none) connections over the Internet.

      3. FormerKowloonTonger
        Thumb Down

        Re: excuses

        ....smartass.....

        ....."Banking I understand, but I'm not in the habit of getting my water or power off the internet. ".....no one is....of course....but remember that all of this "stuff" is operated by electricity and is, hence, absolutely not out of reach of Muslim terrorism or cyber attacks.......channel your inner Hacker. Rub those glass balls.

        ...are you immune because you're a certified dhimmi? ....somewhere deep inside an '-istan somewhere?

      4. Psyx
        Windows

        Re: excuses

        "Banking I understand, but I'm not in the habit of getting my water or power off the internet. There is no reason for these utilities to not operate securely and out of physical reach of foreign countries. One has to wonder why these things would be exposed, or even if they really are."

        Because 20 years ago it was all on seperate nodes, but then people decided it'd be handy to hook everything up together so they could monitor and control it all at once, from one place. And then 15 years ago nobody saw the harm in it all being on the same internal network with everyone's desktops. And then 10 years ago that got hooked up to email and the internet, because people needed email in the office, and nobody really considered that the entire operation was hooked up. And then a few years after that, the IT bods decided it'd be really good if the control mechanisms could be dialled into, so that people didn't have to go on-site at 3am to fix stuff.

        And then about 5 years ago, people in the IT department said "oh...shit" in the grim realisation of what had happened, but by then the bean-counters didn't want to stump for upgraded security and the engineers had got used to not having to go on-site at 3am to fix stuff, and IT decided to shut up because they were already up to their eyes with BAU work, and everyone crossed their fingers and hoped that one day they wouldn't wake up to a bunch of hackers having owned their production systems.

    2. h4rm0ny

      "The idea is to protect one's water supply, power infrastructure, banking systems.....if that requires some "attacking" probes to forestall a major effort on the part of the "mis-understanders of Islam", then so be it."

      I'm stumped as to how attacks on Iran's installations with things like Stuxnet, help protect US water supplies, etc. All they seem to do to me is stoke up motivation for revenge attacks and legitimize attacks on infrastructure.

      1. FormerKowloonTonger
        Childcatcher

        ....Re;....."I'm stumped ..."

        No need to be. Stuxnet at al send a signal [pun alert] that we're on to their game. "Revenge" is a two way street. Pussy-footin' around this Muslim-muzzie-cyber threat may be politically correct in some dhimmi quarters, but appeasement and 'diplomacy' have not been proven terribly effective, have they?

        With the truncated attention spans of today, and, if it won't fit on an Ipod screen..."..it never happened, man"....is effing dangerous as an attitude.

  2. Notas Badoff
    FAIL

    credibility != credulity

    "If we look for offensive cyber attacks that have been linked back to a known government, we mostly find attacks that have been launched by United States, not against them,"

    Methinks Mr. Hypo needs to work on his use of bold. It shows he's missing the larger point, yes? This feels like the '30s all over again.

    1. solidsoup

      Re: credibility != credulity

      that have been linked back to a known government

      How does the guy define linked to? Does he mean admitted by? Well, then that's a peculiar sample to select. And whenever someone goes for a peculiar sample, they invariably have an agenda.

      China and Russia conduct significantly more attacks. US just can't keep it's mouth shut.

      1. Valis
        FAIL

        Re: credibility != credulity

        "China and Russia conduct significantly more attacks."

        Citation needed.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Citation needed.

          I could provide one, but then I'd have to hunt you all down and kill you.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Like anyone would know the truth

    These types of stories are pure fiction.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Alien

    Occupied and Immaculately Protected, so Beware when Forewarned, there be No Excuse for Ignorance*

    "There is an extraterrestrial explanation for all of this and here it is ......" is more than just quite an appropriate icon and APT here, methinks.

    Cyberspace is a SecuredD Alien Place and simply teeming with Advanced IntelAIgent Life Phorms. Attacking IT is Pointless and Perilous as IT always virtually provides and anonymously supports ITs Guardian Angels with Autonomous Zeroday Vulnerabilities in Corruptible Power Units and Perverse Administration Systems to Ruthlessly and Remotely Exploit to Destruction and Exhaustion ... Elite Depletion.

    * Well, one might have to concede that an insane defence plea of madness and congenital stupidity would provide a prosecution team with no contest or good reason to disagree.

  5. jake Silver badge

    "Physical Infrastructure" shouldn't be connected to the Internet in the first place.

    This includes sneakernet ...

    1. FormerKowloonTonger
      Holmes

      Re: "Physical Infrastructure" shouldn't be connected to the Internet in the first place.

      ....aha! ......but it is indeed now an inseparable part of the "interconnectedness" so highly touted by the uber-cyber-literati that now there's no going back to dial-up rotary telephones. and waving signal flags....we're now enlightened [pun alert]...some might say "hoist on our own petard". But we needn't be if we remain alert to Muslim threats....remember...they themselves openly and often declare "the West" to be their enemy. Ostrich feathers fluttering all about are not Firewalls.

      We can't be just partially nerd-like now, we're immersed in our eagerly embraced, all-inclusive cyberness....there's no escape...it itself is now part of the infrastructure.....see how this rapidly becomes all so very circular?

      So now.....we must defend our circles.

    2. gollux
      Mushroom

      Re: "Physical Infrastructure" shouldn't be connected to the Internet in the first place.

      Heh, since that's the way the Iranians got hit so mightily. Never underestimate the danger of a USB stick.

      1. Psyx
        Thumb Up

        Re: "Physical Infrastructure" shouldn't be connected to the Internet in the first place.

        "Heh, since that's the way the Iranians got hit so mightily. Never underestimate the danger of a USB stick."

        Never underestimate the security value of emptying tubes of superglue into USB slots, so morons can't plug their own stick in.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Physical Infrastructure" shouldn't be connected to the Internet in the first place.

      I disagree. Please stop throwing that term up in every network discussion because you think it sounds cool.

  6. Steen Hive
    Mushroom

    More from the department of the bleedin' obvious

    To be sure, the septics have been bombing seven shades of shit out of various shades of brown people for decades, much more than the converse. Why would the intertubes be any different?

    Well it is different, I suppose. The Chinese and Iranians don't need military bases on the Canadian border to have a "forward presence" on the Internet.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious

      Uh ... Steen, I think you'll find most of the "US" folks bombing "brown" folks are, themselves, "brown". Including the dude sitting in the Oval Office.

      We're an equal-opportunity bunch of assholes ... colo(u)r really doesn't matter.

      Try not to be a racist in the future, m'kay?

      1. LaeMing
        Unhappy

        Yup.

        Humans are all the same colour when riddled with holes.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Yup.

          We all breathe oxygen & all bleed red. We can all fall in love, marry, raise children. WITHOUT "race"[1], politics or religion getting in the way. Or sexuality, for that matter.

          Politicians & religious prats need to go away & allow humanity to be human.

          [1] All humans are the same "race", genetically ... and have the same multiple-greats grandmother dating back to around 190,000 years ago in East Africa.

      2. Steen Hive

        Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious

        Ohh lordy, we have a coloured person in the White House. That makes 6 decades of bloody, asymmetric warfare alright then!

        "Try not to be a racist in the future"

        What's this, a new variation of the "antisemite" card? ODFO! Get back to me when drones are bombing the Hamptons.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious

          You brought up "race", Steen. Me, I don't see colo(u)r as important.

          6 decades? Where were you during the slave trade (Islamic, Christian & Jewish run, to say nothing of the Chinese & the Japanese ... At least the Indians quantify it in the Caste system)?

          The drones DID try to bomb the Hamptons (even if they didn't know it). They missed, and hit New York & Pennsylvania. Probably would have made more of an impact if they had hit the big money. Numpties.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake

        There was no comment on the colour of those doing the bombing in the original post, so how do you figure that it was racist?

        Fact is, the US have been bombing seven shades of shit out of various countries (and supporting the Israelis when they do the same), and the common factor is that the targets and the collateral victims are invariably brown.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake @AC(16:12)

          Let us know your post code and we'll send one your way. You know, for equality and all that.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake

          "There was no comment on the colour of those doing the bombing in the original post, so how do you figure that it was racist?"

          Uh ... Steen used the word "brown".

          The actual common factor is that they are energy/raw materials/politics corridors. I'm not in agreement with the President's Bush policies here, in fact quite the opposite ... We should have never got involved in the first place.

          My Wife's cousins, whose family has been in Afghanistan from time immemorial (literally), are not "brown". They are genetic Caucasians.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake

            Although I disagree with Jake (who doesn't, he's The register resident troll), thumbs up for noticing that Afghans are not all brown, like shock horror, you do get white muslims and brown racists.

            Children are not born racists and killers, society and parenting just makes them that way.

            1. jake Silver badge

              @AC08:00 (was: Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake)

              "who doesn't, he's The register resident troll"

              Oh, cool! I was wondering who held that title :-)

              Ta for noticing that I made a fairly important point ...

        3. Don Jefe

          Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake

          You've never actually seen people from the countries we bomb have you? Go back to your Fox News & be happy in your ignorance. Bow to Rupert and keep your mouth shut you insanely racist douche.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Don Jefe (Was: Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious@jake)

            "You've never actually seen people from the countries we bomb have you?"

            Yes, I have. I have visited my Wife's cousins in Afghanistan several times.

            Why, exactly, do you think I'm racist? And no, I'm not a fan of Faux "news".

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Facepalm

        Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious

        How is he being racist by stating an obvious truth, and does "m'kay" mean?

        1. jake Silver badge

          @SauronTheGreat (was: Re: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious)

          Parse the following:

          "I shot a deer today to provide for my family."

          "I shot a deer today because it was brown."

          Grok the difference?

          You don't know what "m'kay"means? Newbie. Somewhere Sarah Bee is spinning.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @SauronTheGreat (was: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious)

            Parse? Grok? Newbie? Wow, for someone who claims to have been around since who-cares-when, you sound like an undergrad who's just found one of those online computing dictionaries and thinks throwing those words around makes you a "guru". Even on these forums, you stand out as a narcissistic, supercilous plonker ...

            1. jake Silver badge

              @AC16:16 (was: Re: @SauronTheGreat (was: More from the department of the bleedin' obvious))

              "you sound like an undergrad"

              There is a difference between speaking/typing "undergrad" and "lingua franca". The devil is in the details.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    is it really surprising?

    Western defence strategies have for a long time been based on having the shit-hottest offensive capability. Just to be sure the rest of the world gets the point, thelatest weaponry is used when convenient conflicts arise, either directly or by an ally.

    That way, a quite diplomatic word on the lines of 'You've seen what we can do, do you really want to fuck with us' is usually all that's needed to keep the peace.

    It seems to me that the same holds true for cyberspace.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: is it really surprising?

      "Just to be sure the rest of the world gets the point, thelatest weaponry is used when convenient conflicts arise, either directly or by an ally."

      I like to think of it as the "Tony Stark" approach.

    2. Spoddyhalfwit

      Re: is it really surprising?

      @justaKOS

      "That way, a quite diplomatic word on the lines of 'You've seen what we can do, do you really want to fuck with us' is usually all that's needed to keep the peace."

      Or to paraphrase, "we lost Vietnam against some guys with ak47s and pyjamas, we've spent 11 years and still haven't beaten the Taliban - but its all money well spent because some guys running the weapon manufacturers are now driving really nice cars"

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        This would not be surprising, although certainly perverse and subversive

        <quote>Re: is it really surprising? ….. @justaKOS,

        "That way, a quite diplomatic word on the lines of 'You've seen what we can do, do you really want to fuck with us' is usually all that's needed to keep the peace."

        Or to paraphrase, "we lost Vietnam against some guys with ak47s and pyjamas, we've spent 11 years and still haven't beaten the Taliban - but its all money well spent because some guys running the weapon manufacturers are now driving really nice cars" ….. Spoddyhalfwit Posted Sunday 21st October 2012 05:21 GMT</quote>

        Are they the global terrorists which/who have created Al Qaeda to justify their business and existence, Spoddyhalfwit, …. those guys running the weapon manufacturers? That would make them, whenever it is so, a legitimate prime target for anti-terrorist squads and/or special forces operations/attention.

    3. Psyx
      Black Helicopters

      Re: is it really surprising?

      "Western defence strategies have for a long time been based on having the shit-hottest offensive capability. Just to be sure the rest of the world gets the point, thelatest weaponry is used when convenient conflicts arise, either directly or by an ally."

      What military strategy have you been reading, then? The feeling for over a century and the numbers have always favoured the defence. [Non-German] Strategists exploring the concept of Blitzkrieg warfare even went so far as understating its presumed effects in the interwar period, so as to not to be seen as provocative. I don't recall any real NATO capability to roll through East Germany back in the 80s, either.

      And if anything, the latest wars are an excuse to use all the old stuff before the 'best before' date runs out. The bleeding edge straight-outta-the-box stuff gets used very secretly and over-cautiously, lest it fall into the wrong hands. It's seen as more effective as a secret and unused weapon than a public and tested one.

      "It seems to me that the same holds true for cyberspace."

      That's kinda guesswork. Governmentally-wise the US started keeping all of its sensitive systems firmly off-line a long time before they really started thinking about getting serious on offensive capabilities.

    4. Tom 13

      Re: Western defence strategies have for a long time been based on

      And Europe got that way in 732 AD because before that, the Muslims were doing it to them for 5 centuries. When we finally started getting some minimal rights back in 1215 the battle lines shifted to England and France but the same principles applied. After we crazy 'merkins won our freedom you lot drug us through not one but two world wars. In the 25+ centuries of massed warfare, it's the proven effective strategy.

  8. JaitcH
    FAIL

    US accused of hypocrisy? Really?

    The US is the biggest hypocrite in the world.

    It mounts InterNet attacks yet claims it is being attacked; it attacks other countries and enters their territories without permission - exactly what terrorists do. It decries dictatorships and loss of democracy and yet it copies them with respect to US citizens.

    It even objects to countries locking people up without trial and yet it has hundreds of it's own.

    Hopefully someone will call the loan notes and then they will be trouble.

  9. adnim

    Accused?

    I thought it was common knowledge.

  10. tkioz
    Angel

    Well Duh!

    All governments are hypocrites about this sort of thing... "How dare you spy on us!" they scream when they catch someone... all the while spying on other nations themselves... It's part of the game, they all accept that, so long as they don't get caught, and now it applies to cyberspace as well.

    The Russians spy/spied on the yanks, the yanks spied/spy on the Russians, the Frogs spy on the Poms, the Poms spy on the Frogs, The Chinese spy on the Japanese, the Japanese spy on the Chinese, etc. etc. It's all part of international relations.

    1. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      Re: "Well Duh!" The stench of hypocrisy whenever this subject........

      ...........is raised regardless of which country we are talking about is fairly nauseating. However, the problem the US have here image-wise is their perception of themselves as "the land of the free" and their society being model for others to follow. It makes the hypocrisy seem larger when they get up to these kinds of shenanigans. The nation that perceives of itself as the "shining city on the hill" is positively begging to get criticised over this kind of thing, regardless of the fact that they are of course far from being the only offender.

      1. Local G
        Big Brother

        The land of the 'free'

        The home of the 'brave'

        And the porta potty of 'anything goes'.

        That must be the stench he was referring to

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    I believe the first cyberattack

    Was during war games between US forces back in the 80s.

    They've been doing it a long time. The operative rule is "don't get caught"

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