RE: [iwar] Me spreading hysteria about Cyberwar

From: Leo, Ross (
Date: 2001-06-25 07:12:42

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Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 09:12:42 -0500
Subject: RE: [iwar] Me spreading hysteria about Cyberwar
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I find this interesting.  I don't know about the hysteria part, though.  Or
the Monkey-Man either. (?!?!)

We should never forget that the spreading of disiniformation is also a part
of war, cyber and otherwise.  IMHO - Blitzkrieg is a piece of this.  (Just
stop and think about it for a moment).  I have no doubt that the NSA/DoD
have looked/are looking into this, from both offensive and defensive
perspectives.  It would be their normal role to do so, and they would be
remiss not to investigate such potentialities.  

WRT Chaos Theory:  Any time power transfers (Law of Physical and Social
Entropy), folks get nervous.  There are a lot of "practical Chaoticians" out
there.  The proliferation of cheap computers through-out the world
constitutes a power transfer into the hands of folks like this.  And what
makes me nervous (not very, really) is not the ones we hear about.

Given the way humans and Governments learn and react, it will take a
large-scale, serious event from a hostile source to really wake them up.  I
spend 10 hours a day working on answers to problems like cyber warfare and
directing others doing the same thing, so that  my clients are not caught
napping.  It is the same with them, and unless and until organizations get
with it, the damage will be done first without benefit of preparation or
mitigation.  (T'was ever thus...).

As for the MonkeyMan, what sort of Cyber warrior is he/it, and why do we
even care?

-----Original Message-----
From: Ravi V Prasad []
Sent: Sunday, June 24, 2001 05:22
Subject: [iwar] Me spreading hysteria about cyberwar

An article in by George Smith attacking me and accusing me 
of spreading hysteria about cyberwar.

Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

Mumblings of monkey-men mock moderation 
by George C. Smith, Ph.D. 

LOCAL LOS ANGELES TV news anchormen had a great time with the monkey-
man of India -- an allegedly fierce creature fond of attacking the 
destitute while they slept. I bet yours did, too. Thanks to a 
strategically placed news story in the Los Angeles Times and 
subsequent legs on the Times-Post newswire in May, everyone was 
laughing it up over this story of queer beans emanating from the 
subcontinent. "Look at those backward perishers in Gobble-Wallah," 
was the smug subtext. "They don't know ---- from shinola!" 

"Leading Hindu nationalists insisted that the military intelligence 
agency in Pakistan had sent the monkey-man in a sinister plot to 
destabilize India. Several members of Parliament demanded that the 
government send in crack paramilitary units to catch the ape-man."  
-- from a May 2001 story in the Los Angeles Times on the hysteria 
surrounding a recent urban legend of India 
However, our myths are just as good. We just spackle them over with a 
snobby, less proletarian techno-veneer. The monkey-man would have 
been fine for America in the early-70's, around the time of the 
filming of "The Legend of Boggy Creek," but now that we've invented 
the Internet, "digital Pearl Harbor" and "information warfare" 
derivatives are better socio-cultural fits. 

So infatuated was I by the tale of the monkey-man of New Delhi I went 
in search of more news on the Internet and in so doing discovered 
that one of our special monkey-men had wandered away and merged with 
the cyber-lore of foreign lands. 

It was said in the Los Angeles newspaper that an analysis in the 
Hindustan Times wrestled with explaining the belief in the monkey-
man. Desperation and hard times was what it boiled down to, according 
to the Times -- superstition cooked up by "poor people" driven to 
aggravation by 10-hour power black-outs and water shortages. 

Looking for the Hindustan Times on the Web for further copy, however, 
got me sidetracked onto another article published by the newspaper. 
In a piece from the June 8, 2000 edition, journalist Ravi V. Prasad 
mulled over "cyber-terrorism and the threat to India" in the wake of 
the KillerRésumé and ILoveYou computer viruses. 

Prasad quoted R. James Woolsey, former director of the CIA, as an 
expert on computer viruses. In the Hindustan Times, Prasad alleged 
Woolsey had claimed the existence of "an entirely new class of 
viruses which he termed instructive viruses" during a talk given to a 
Washington-based think tank. 

"An instructive virus can instruct [which would seem inarguable] 
critical computers to shut down vital infrastructure," went the 

The Hindustan Times also claimed the National Security Agency had 
developed a "virus called Blitzkrieg ... based on research in quantum 
electrodynamics and chaos theory, which can destroy networks of 
entire nations ... the equivalent of the deadly human Ebola virus..." 

"While there is no significant reason to suspect that the US may use 
Blitzkrieg or instructive viruses against India, we should be on our 
guard," continued the newspaper. 

"Because the monkey-man reportedly attacked only sleeping people in 
the dead of night, actual sightings were hard to come by."  
-- "...Sinister Simians Roam," the Los Angeles Times, May 2001 

U.S. CYBER-MONKEY-MEN HAVE much in common with the New Delhi species. 
Sightings of terrorists plotting to douse the lights from the refuge 
of an offshore cyber-bunker or Russian henchmen downloading precious 
U.S. Department of Defense intellectual treasure are often cited but 
occur only in the American equivalent of very dim moonlight: hearsay 
of classified goings-on or vague but stunningly grandiose mumblings 
delivered by parties who speak under the shields of secrecy and 

With the case of the NSA Blitzkrieg virus, the legend concerning it 
was already just about two years old when come upon by the Hindustan 
Times. In April of 1998, SIGNAL, the magazine organ of the Armed 
Forces Communications and Electronics Association, a publication 
notable for jargon-riddled articles on the repeatedly alleged utter 
supremacy of Department of Defense digital widgetry and a servile 
regard for the details of Pentagon contracting, ran a cover story on 

Like many news items which take on the proportion of myths, this 
story concealed a small nugget of truth -- in this case, word of a 
still-in-development piece of commercial computer network security 
software -- within a billowing cloud of grandiloquent, often common-
sense-defying huffing and hooting. 

"A growing echelon of chief technology officers are likening the 
stealthy [Blitzkrieg] virus to the digital equivalent of Star Wars 
technology," alleged a sample. Yet another segment of the now mythic 
story referred to an apparently very excitable but unnamed CIA 
computer security specialist who claimed Blitzkrieg virus to 
be "potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons." 

Mostly, all the magazine's blustering was aimed at getting the 
interested to attend an annual high tech conference sponsored by 
AFCEA. And, in the fullness of time, that was pretty much the end of 

No "Star Wars" computing technology gained supremacy. Despite a great 
deal of wishful thinking on the subject, no digital "nuclear weapons" 
appeared. Virus-writers made ILoveYou and Melissa and Kournikova and 
a few thousand others of no account. Cyber-World Wars were said to be 
started and stopped, won and lost, lost and won, stalemated, 
checkmated, fool's-mated and deadlocked. It was Serbia vs. NATO, 
India vs. Pakistan, Arab vs. Israeli, Chancre Jack China vs. Commie 
China, Commie China vs. America, Lick-Spittle vs. the Cyber-
Pantywaist, cats vs. dogs, a dozen or so I've forgotten, and Me vs. 
You -- you crusty botch of nature! 

Are you beginning to grasp where your editor is going with this? 

"One man who claimed that he had looked the monkey-man straight in 
the eye said the beast immediately turned into a cat and ran away."  
-- from the Los Angeles Times 
If one takes the wide-angle view, it becomes painfully obvious that 
it doesn't really matter if the songs we sing to each other are based 
on nothing at all. If enough believe the myths have merit then 
subsequent public discussions and national policy can and does arise 
as a response to them. 

In this specific case, empty-headed talk -- tales of monkey-men -- of 
U.S. origin about network blitzkriegs and instructive viruses is 
taken as an indication, by a foreign country's Washington Post, that 
the American military has taken a lead in development of cyber-
weapons and that it might be rational to think about devising 
balancing forces. 

IRONICALLY, THIS IS not the view from the cyber-trouble front 
typically presented in the American mainstream. Instead, the US-
centric view, which in and of itself is a rather selective myth, is 
best explained in connection with the Department of Defense buzz-
term -- "asymmetric threat." 

Invoked ad nauseum since the middle of the past decade by Pentagon-
wonks, "asymmetric threats" are "weapons [like 'instructive viruses'] 
and tactics that relatively weak enemies ... use to foil [U.S.] 
technological supremacy." Or, for another common example, they can be 
explained as features of "a war where [the adversary] will strive to 
fight electronically" instead of irrationally attacking the U.S. 
military head on. 

Always in accompaniment is the vaguely-defined received wisdom that 
such menaces arise more or less spontaneously in foreign powers or 
agencies crazy-mad bent on attacking America in the future. The 
heretical idea that an "asymmetric threat" might not actually be so, 
that it might just be a sign of symmetry -- a refection or reaction 
stemming from a perception that the U.S. military has an aggressive 
interest in the same type of offensive warfighting -- is not 

In other words, the myth of the asymmetric cyber-threat will 
generally appear in our national news media as a reported condition 
in which American infrastructure is always said to be the target of 
foreign operations or plans in development. And it will present in a 
vacuum in which examples from the foreign perspective (of which there 
are now, unsurprisingly, quite a few) are excluded. One never expects 
to see mention of an article from the New Delhi (or any foreign 
capital's) newspaper suggesting the need for cyber-war agencies as a 
response to a presumed corresponding and quite possibly precedent 
American build-up. The exception to the rule is one in which such an 
article is filtered through a government, military or private sector 
source who paraphrases only the portion where information warfare 
agencies are recommended -- not the context in which it is delivered. 

"If he's a monkey, I'm ready for him."  
-- a New Delhi man "now in the monkey management business" waiting 
and hoping for a call to take on the monkey-man 
However, this is not all bad news! Rampant confusion and mass 
insanity can be good for the economy. The multiplication of monkey-
men myths creates job stimulus. Professionals recruited to 
prevent "instructive viruses" or network Blitzkriegers can be thought 
of as our more technologically informed variety of monkey-man 
managers. Indeed, they can spawn even more jobs and goods, 
creating "synergies" with strategic forecasting services or threat 
warning and information sharing networks. Anyone can get in the game, 
from federal agencies like the National Infrastructure Protection 
Center or the National Security Council to the private sector. 

Better still, the work is inexpensive and can turn a substantial 
profit upon mark-up prior to delivery of the finished product. You 
see, the dirty little secret of monkey-man prediction is that it is 
the technological equivalent of unskilled labor. 

That is, unless you consider daily Web-surfing and the collection of 
electronic gossip tasks requiring scholarly rigor. 



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