Chapter 5 - A Petite Declaration of Cyber War

Yes, yes. We are on the same team. I agree with most of your objectives even if I don’t really see how this is all going to work. I am suspending disbelief.

Good.

I want to say that I really appreciate what you’ve written.

Good.

But…

Here it comes.

I can see where we’re going now, and that is really really helpful, but I’m still struggling to fill in the gaps.

In short, it was Russia’s fault. If you want the full story, read The Cuckoo’s Egg.

What did they do?

Oh come on, you noob! Obviously it wasn’t all Russia’s fault. The moral of this story, which usually comes at the end but apparently has to be stated right now, is that no one is innocent. We are all culpable for various wrongs, so quit trying to point the finger.

Oh.

The whole world is engaged in cyberwarfare. Full stop. Do note, humans have not only severely polluted our planet, we have a massive layer of space junk due to countries chucking surveillance satellites into orbit since the 1960’s ad nauseam. The Space Race wasn’t happening because of the ‘wow factor’ of putting a man on the moon, you dork. The entire purpose of the Space Race was to accelerate surveillance and earth/space communication technologies. And thanks to our hyper-capitalist existence, Melon Usk is now launching satellites for small private businesses who might like to spy on their patrons.

I had no idea.

Yes, we’ve established that. To get back to your original question, if you want some kind of declaration of war, there wasn’t really one, per se. Except this. (Special thanks to Mikipedia for a synopsis of the Cuckoo’s Egg.)

In 1986, an astronomer named Clifford Stoll discovered a hack at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). LBNL is dedicated to solving ‘the most pressing problems of mankind’. A recent headline on their website has something to do with “Avalanching Nanoparticles for Real Time Cellular Imaging”. You know, amateur stuff really.

Stoll sets out to solve a simple accounting error of, get this, seventy-five cents, but instead, Stoll discovers an unauthorized user. To track down this infiltrator, Stoll sets up his own personal sting operation by commandeering fifty terminals. Then he watches the hacker in real time and tracks the hack back to MITRE, a non-profit defense contractor that supplied innumerable military bases. MITRE routes communications across the defense network, so Stoll watches as this guy searches for ‘nuclear’ and ‘SDI’ (SDI being the Strategic Defense Initiative, which you’ve never heard of, also known as ‘Star Wars’.) Mostly importantly, for our purposes, this was the first known infrastructure level hack, because the intrusion was coming through the modem. I know the significance of that just went over your head, so I’m going to spell it out for you. INFRASTRUCTURE LEVEL HACKING.