Cyber Deterrence is More Important than Nuclear Deterrenceby@nebojsaneshatodorovic
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Cyber Deterrence is More Important than Nuclear Deterrence

by Nebojsa "Nesha" TodorovicJune 20th, 2022
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The Millennials and Gen Zs have taken the whole thing about the WW3 and nuclear apocalypse too seriously. There are things far scarier than nukes. Nuclear retaliation has its limits. First nuked, first destroyed, not completely, but with enough “resources” left to strike back. Cyber retaliations let your sick imagination run wild for as long as and as many times as you want.

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We all know that it’s not a good idea to poke the Russian nuclear bear.

Voilà! The doctrine of nuclear deterrence in one line. No further explanation needed. You’re welcome.

Here’s a “funny” thing about it, though. The Millennials and Gen Zs have taken the whole thing about the WW3 and nuclear apocalypse too seriously. Sorry, but that’s something “reserved” for Baby Boomers and my (lost) generation X. And, we don’t give a damn about it. Why? Because we’d learned it works first-hand.

Chernobyl For Beginners

Can you find Chernobyl on a map? Is it too much to ask?

About one in six (16 percent) Americans correctly located Ukraine, clicking somewhere within its borders. Most thought that Ukraine was located somewhere in Europe or Asia, but the median respondent was about 1,800 miles off — roughly the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles — locating Ukraine somewhere in an area bordered by Portugal on the west, Sudan on the south, Kazakhstan on the east, and Finland on the north.”

Back in 1986, as a 10-year-old kid, I found it a bit strange when my mom told me I couldn’t go to play outside when it was raining. To make things even worse for my jilted generation (Google “The Prodigy” for additional context) we were told to forget playing with marbles that summer. The silver lining was equally “mysterious,” but more than welcome, the disappearance of the eat-your-vegetables commandment. Why?

There’s something in the air. There’s something in the ground. There’s something all around us, and it’s bad.

HBO did an excellent job of portraying that time period with their painfully accurate Chernobyl limited series.

One song and one music video stuck with me from that very specific time in history. Sting hoped the Russians love their children too in his song. OK. That’s one of the ways to put it (nuclear deterrence). On the other side, Phil Collins and “Genesis” won a Grammy Award for Best Concept Music Video. I have to admit, “Land of Confusion” both visually and lyrically aged well.

Oh, Superman, where are you now? When every thing's gone wrong somehow?

Spot on! Spot on!

Sleep Tight - It Ain’t Gonna Be A Nuclear Fight

Little did I know that there are things far scarier than nukes. There are two documentaries that deserve your attention: “Countdown to Zero” (2010) and “Zero Days” (2016).

What’s the difference between these two eye-openers?

“According to the displayed graphic, it would take 106 seconds for a Russian nuclear warhead to reach Berlin, 200 seconds to Paris and 202 seconds to London!”

That’s not a picture from the first documentary I mentioned, but it comes in handy to make my point. Countdown means that there’s the time involved, even if it’s measured in seconds.

“The term "zero-day" refers to the fact that the vendor or developer has only just learned of the flaw – which means they have “zero days” to fix it. A zero-day attack takes place when hackers exploit the flaw before developers have a chance to address it.”

I know what you’re going to say. Of all the cybersecurity experts and solution providers, you’re quoting - Kaspersky. Are you serious? Yes, and I’m respectful in my own research right.

If my memory serves me right, watch the second documentary to prove me wrong, if it hadn’t been for Kaspersky, we wouldn’t have found out about - Stuxnet.

Here’s an IMDB summary of the documentary that will send chills up your spine:

A documentary focused on Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target.

Pay attention to the keyword “spread.”

Google “Operation Olympic Games”

Nowadays, people can’t access Instagram or Twitter for an hour or two, and they’re literally freaking out. That’s the world we live in. I have to mention another Sting’s song, a much better one - “Fragile.”

For all those born beneath an angry star Least we forget how fragile we are

We have forgotten, indeed. So, here’s a quick reminder about the Colonial Pipeline hack:

  • “The Colonial Pipeline was the victim of a ransomware attack in May 2021.”
  • “The hack was deemed a national security threat, as the pipeline moves oil from refineries to industrial markets.”
  • “This caused President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency.”
  • “The Colonial Pipeline is one of the largest and most vital oil pipelines in the U.S.”
  • “It starts in Texas and moves all the way up through New Jersey, supplying nearly half of the fuel for the East Coast.”
  • “Colonial Pipeline paid DarkSide hackers to get the decryption key, enabling the company's IT staff to regain control of its systems.”

That was ONLY one attack. It lasted ONLY a couple of days. It was resolved ONLY when the ransom was paid.

Now, imagine the full-scale cyber war! No, you can’t. You simply can’t.

As “Zero Days” shows, this form of cryptic aggression is already highly developed, in the possession of numerous governments as well as non-state actors, and currently employed in various surreptitious ways around the world. Yet it’s a weapon whose destructive potential has only been glimpsed till now. In a cyber world war, millions could be killed in very short order as national infrastructures are decimated and havoc wreaked technologically. It’s enough to make old-fashioned nuclear war seem benign in comparison.

Allow me to “play” with the last sentence of this great review’s part that I just quoted.

It’s enough to make old-fashioned nuclear war seem LIKE A JOKE in comparison.

…the U.S. has a program called Nitro Zeus that makes Olympic Games look like a sandbox game. Aimed to “disrupt, degrade and destroy” Iran’s infrastructure, the program would mean “a full scale cyber war,” in the words of one expert, a war in which the U.S. would be subject to the same sort of attacks. Releasing Stuxnet was, as has been observed, opening a Pandora’s Box, and now its effects have spread across the globe. The Russians were big on this kind of warfare from early on…

Now I Have Become a Coder, The Destroyer of Cyber Worlds

Thomas Shelby is (going to be) Robert Oppenheimer in a new Christopher Nolan's film. A little bit too late, too little, if you’re asking me.

Oppenheimer had held complicated feelings about the atomic bomb, once confessing to President Harry Truman that he had “blood on his hands” (said Truman: “I don’t want to see that son of a bitch in this office ever again!”). Later, in a state of deep melancholy, he quoted a Sanskrit translation from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Oppenheimer never did visit Hiroshima

The modern-day “Oppenheimers” walk among us and work on cyber bombs. Do they have “complicated feelings” about their “creations?” Look at what just ONE “father” of the atomic bomb did to the world. Now, imagine what countless “parents” of cyber bombs could do. We used to have just ONE red button. Now, we have countless keyboards.

There’s one final and “prevalent” difference between nuclear and cyber deterrence. Nuclear retaliation has its limits. First come, first served. First nuked, first destroyed, not completely, but with enough “resources” left to strike back. Cyber retaliations let your sick imagination run wild for as long as and as many times as you want.

In the Dune universe, all technology and computers were destroyed during the Butlerian Jihad, a holy war against thinking machines. Hence the importance of the mind and thinking without using computers.

“As it stands today, our ever-increasing dependence on computers and technology is maybe questionable? And if we want to solve our times’ challenges, like fossil fuel dependence, population growth and dwindling natural resources, we need more advanced thinking skills, complex rituals and ancient wisdom, and not just more technology? I for one believe we need both, but Dune’s legacy as science fiction is powerful, in that it paints a future universe where technology takes a back seat, and the mind, religion, rituals and psychology are back where they belong, in the driver’s seat.”

Long live the world peace; ignorance is and will always be - pure bliss.