Information operations · Information Warfare

cold war 2.0, Worst Case Scenario

Rod Serling

Okay, we’re in a cold war.

Somebody asked me yesterday if we’re in a cold war and they didn’t believe my answer. No, we aren’t doing drills where we drop down and hide beneath our desks, like during the Cuba Missile Crisis. We are not building air raid shelters in our backyard. We aren’t stocking non-perishables, storing hundreds of gallons of water, and kissing our kids goodbye forever every time we leave for work. This is not a Cold War, this is a cold war.

The difference is we are being attacked in ways we do not recognize, which can cripple us, and Congress and the White House are not acting on our behalf. There is little loss of life, but our country and our allies, our culture, our thinking (the way we perceive things), our government, and our quality of life are being attacked.  Just because nukes aren’t being thrown around a battlefield makes this no less dangerous, but most of us just don’t think in those terms.  Let me extrapolate to almost inconceivable terms and then dial it back a notch or two.

cold war 2.0, Worst Case Scenario

This is cold war 2.0. This is not your parents’ Cold War, this is cold war 2.0.  We are currently under attack. The information we see is under attack. The Internet of Things, everything wired into everything, is under attack. We are flooded with disinformation, bad graphics, fake news, and shocking strongly partisan politics.

<opening scene> We are in the middle of an information attack. There are no smoking mushroom clouds in the background. There are no computers sparking and imploding. Our smartphones remain in our pocket or purse, physically unaltered.  We just can’t do anything with them, and when they do work, we don’t trust the information they show us.

<scene 1> Our adversaries have flooded us with disinformation, it overwhelms conventional reports. Twitter and Facebook are initially mostly to blame, they just are overwhelmed with fake accounts which are constantly churning out bad information.  It takes some time, but eventually the authorities ask them to shut down their services, “you’re killing us”, they say. But it’s too late. After weeks, months, and years of abuse, rogue websites have replaced our former trusted news sites. None of these rogue websites can be traced and are not accountable.  Conventional news reporting sites are no longer commercially viable because everybody wants free access.  Adversaries are setting up bogus websites faster than we can report them, and because of our hesitance to have them register as foreign agents, they operate freely. Because commercial media is obsessing about partisan politics, the real information of our surrounding world is seemingly no longer broadcast. All this is exacerbated by trolls, tweets, and postings on Facebook.

Eventually, you will not trust the information you hear or read. You do not trust the media. You do not trust the government. Any and all information that remotely touches the internet is subject to change. Even air-gaps can be bridged with flash drives because at some point even they touch the internet. Medical records cannot be accessed. If you do not have a paper copy of your prescriptions, you might not receive the correct medications. Television and radio might be the only option you have to receive truthful information.

<Next scene, Cyber Armegeddon> Our adversaries have unleashed a universal killer worm which is self-propagating.

Worst case scenario, cyber attacks are launched at absolutely everything. This is not malware on your computer, or somebody stealing your password. This is your internet gone. Your electricity is off or only intermittent, or you’re running a generator if you haven’t installed solar panels, but generators need gas. Your gas station is offline and inoperable. Your ATM is not working, your debit and credit cards do not work. Life as you know it would cease to exist.  Cash would be the only option but nobody has any.  The information shown on radar screens cannot be trusted, planes would have no choice but to stay grounded. Only Visual Flight Rules apply.

<Rod Serling appears>  This is not real, this has only been a demonstration of what can happen if we do not innoculate our citizens against information attacks. We must teach them, show them what propaganda is, what disinformation is about, and show them that rogue governments are trying to undermine our governments, our alliances, our culture, our way of life.

The cyber component would not happen if every computer, every network, and every system is treated like a front-line soldier of cyber attacks.  Protecting just the government is no longer an option.  Botnets and zombie computers cannot be acceptable in any society.

“We the People” must be protected.


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