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The USA and its allies attacked Syrian chemical weapons installations this week but, as I predicted, Russia opted not to retaliate by shooting down the missiles and attacking the craft that launched them.
Old Vlad has too much to lose by showing that his claimed invincible weapons come from the same Photoshop studio as Kim Jon Un's.
Instead, we're being told by the mainstream media (so it's almost certainly grossly over-hyped) that Russia is preparing for a major cyber-attack.
The UK's dailies are claiming that Russia is busy compromising a huge number of routers, modems and computer systems, in preparation for what could be a significant attack on key infrastructure items. We know it's coming, we just don't know when -- seems to be the story.
So is this really the case? Are we about to see huge DOS attacks that will bring down vital network infrastructure or take out power and communications grids across Europe, maybe even the USA?
Well it makes a nice story... but I'm not convinced.
I'm pretty certain that Russia and other aggressive states (such as the USA and N.Korea) have indeed been hacking away at devices on the internet, with a view to using them as robots for a large-scale attack at some stage.
Right now though, it seems that they're more focused on playing "man in the middle" and getting key information such as IDs and passwords to vital systems. Of course, as we all know, nobody with half a brain would use an unencrypted link to transfer such valuable information so that might slow these bad actors down a bit.
Of course if they're busy loading up key computer systems with covert malware which includes keystroke loggers then they've probably got a better chance -- but what critical infrastructure provider doesn't run a pretty tight firewall and anti-virus system on their networks?
Answer: probably a hell of a lot more than you'd think.
We've already seen just how easy it has been for various bits of code like StuxNet to get into systems and then propagate around to almost every node. I strongly suspect that many of those well-paid system admins spend too much time playing solitaire or minefield when they should be scanning logs, testing their firewalls and being more proactive about the security of their networks.
State-sponsored hackers have almost limitless resources at their fingertips and thus we can be pretty sure that the media reports are at least partly true. I'd wage good money that Russia (or the UK or the USA or China) could launch a pretty serious infrastructure attack against an enemy through the Net -- right now.
The longer we wait, the more chance there is that such an attack will have greater effect. As they say, it's almost certainly not "if" but "when".
The really worrying thing is that there would be no better time to launch a conventional military attack against an enemy than while they're busy trying to work out why all their infrastructure is down and the internet has stopped working. The confusion thus created would almost certainly make a military strike much, much easier and more effective.
If Putin really is true to his word and intends to take a strong retaliatory action for the egg that the West has smeared across is face, it could be a two-pronged attack -- both cyber and military.
However, once again I think our fears are being "pumped" by the media so I'm pretty sure (or at least I hope) that any cyber-attack, when it does come, will have only brief and fleeting affect. I also doubt there will be any military engagement -- after all, Putin doesn't want to completely show how weak his hand is.
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