Saturday, December 17, 2011


Not so long ago, news leaked out about an apparently very successful cyber-attack against Iran.  This attack used a virus to attack the centrifuges Iran was using to isolate weapons-grade radioactive material.  The perpetrators are widely believed to be some combination of the U.S. and Israel.

Now the Iranians have somehow captured an American stealthy drone.  According to this Iranian engineer, they did it by interfering with GPS signals in such a way as to trick the drone into landing where the Iranians wanted it to.  This article talks about skeptics of the purported technology.  I'm skeptical on another front: I don't want to believe our military is stupid enough to not put an inertial guidance system on the drone (these don't depend on any external systems like GPS).

But put the skepticism aside for the moment.  If these stories are both real, then we are witnessing the first real cyberwar, with both sides engaged.  The way this is unfolding makes complete sense to me: clever people on both sides identify points of vulnerability and devise ways to attack them.  In both cases, the attack design is quite complex and represents an engineering feat in its own right.  The cost of entry for such attacks is well within the range of just about any nation-state (though countries with a culture of innovation are advantaged), making it a very attractive “weapon” for smaller countries.

Here's a detailed report on an attack against the U.S. in 2008.

This will be interesting to watch evolve...

No comments:

Post a Comment