February 21, 2012
An article for Wall Street Journal subscribers reveals that NSA boss Gen. Keith Alexander believes the hacktavist collective Anonymous may soon have the capability to take down the power grid in the United States through a cyberattack.
Alexander has peddled his theory at White House meetings and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings, WSJ reports. “While he hasn’t publicly expressed his concerns about the potential for Anonymous to disrupt power supplies, he has warned publicly about an emerging ability by cyberattackers to disable or even damage computer networks,” writes Siobhan Gorman.
It’s not easy to disrupt the power grid in the United States. Most systems use proprietary operating systems and applications that are “not readily available for study by your average hacker,” writes Michael Tanj. Power grid or drinking-water systems and networks are not connected to the public internet.
In other words, it would take more than the efforts of an internet meme scattered across imageboards and forums to disrupt this complex system. It would take the concerted resources of a nation-state like China or Russia – or more likely the NSA itself.
“Even in places like the United States, where there isn’t much you cannot find online, you’re not going to be able to get the depth and detail you need to turn off the lights with a simple network connection. You’re going to have to deploy national-level resources,” writes Tanj.
The NSA knows this. It is exploiting the minimal threat poised by Anonymous as part of a propaganda campaign designed to extend the reach of its “Perfect Citizen” program. Perfect Citizen is being developed by defense contractor Raytheon and consists of sensors that would report public utility anomalies to the NSA via a partnership with Homeland Security, according to Ryan Singel. A Raytheon employee described it as a “Big Brother” system.
The NSA has over the years specialized is slurping up mega-amounts of private data in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The resultant database is the largest in the world. It only makes sense the NSA will do the same with the data it will now collect from utilities and the public infrastructure.
Anonymous is being used as an excuse by the government as it rolls out increasingly draconian surveillance programs under the aegis of “cyber security” and terror prevention.
Anonymous’ “electronic civil disobedience” – primarily consisting of denial service attacks on government and corporate websites – and sensationalistic media coverage feed into the plan to not only lockdown and eventually modify the free-wheeling character of the internet, but turn the medium into the most pervasive and effective surveillance apparatus on the planet.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that Anonymous itself is either an NSA op or functioning as a useful idiot.
“The power of this group is unprecedented,” Rob Johnson wrote on January 24. “On the day that the feds shut down MegaUpload.com, Anonymous responded by bringing down the websites of the US Department of Justice and the FBI, as well as the sites of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Warner Music Group, Universal Music and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the largest-ever cyber attack. Anonymous went on another spree Monday morning, assuming control of Senator Chuck Grassley’s Twitter account and shutting down the websites of CBS and Universal Music. Who could do all of this more effectively than the cyber special ops already in place within the government? It’s called United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM), led by General Keith B. Alexander.”