Security Factions: Roosters and Owls

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Infosec Island Admin


"It is prophesied that when the end comes, it will come in darkness: a catastrophe all foresaw but few believed. Most of us will battle too late against the chaos, but not the few, the radical few, who obey no discipline. Unencumbered by conscience, they prepare ruthlessly pursuing their own preservation. If they survive, the rest of us perish." ~ Frank Black, MilleniuM

Roosters and Owls

Lately I have been quiet. My reasons for being mostly quiet stem from the fact that I just feel there is little to be said that would be heard or of use.

We have rushed headlong into the silliness of cyberwar and the media as well as the government and military have capitalized on it all incessantly.

Pundits write about how we need to take control of the situation and that there are many players *cough Iran cough* that need attending to, and since big O decided to let the digital cat out of the bag, well, we best get moving.

Others take a more reasoned approach on the issues and warn that it’s not as bad as you might think, but it could easily go very sideways if we don’t pay attention to what we are up to. Frankly though, the cacophony in the news media and blogosphere just tend to be amplification modules within the great and grand echo chamber and it makes me just want to step away.

The title of “Roosters and Owls” comes from a favorite TV show of mine from the late 90′s called “MilleniuM”. In it, the protagonist, Frank Black, is a part of a shadowy group called the Millennium Group. Later episodes came to a head when there were two factions within the group at war with the other.

The “Roosters” believed that the apocalypse was coming and soon, while the “Owls”, believed as the quote under the ouroboros says, that it is “Still dark of night”, meaning that it is not yet the apocalypse and stood for a reasoned approach.

I feel today that much the same kind of feeling and or thinking processes seem to be going on with regard to cyber warfare. We have people like Dick Clarke making many sound bytes about how we are just totally fraked, while others like Jeff Carr have a more moderate voice. In the end though, I see Clarke more than I see Carr on the television or on the radio, and thus, I think that the roosters are winning the day, and this worries me.

Added to this is the echo chamber that is the internet. Not only is the internet the source of all the trouble (i.e. hacking and cyber warfare being carried out) but also it is a biggest and best source for not only good information but bad. It is up to the viewer to choose the veracity levels that they feel appropriate to so much of the content online, but, unfortunately all too many people just believe that if it’s on Wikipedia, then it’s true.

So we have lobbying going on between factions and all too often, the roosters are the ones being heard crowing in the early morning, with their cry that the apocalypse is upon us, our water supply has been hacked, our power grid is a spiders thread away from utter collapse and you, you my friend, are about to be plunged back into a lifestyle that is more akin to a zombie apocalypse than 21st century living.

All of this, all of the hopelessness of it, as I see it, just makes me want to shake my head and walk away. Let the roosters and owls fight it out as I just sit back in my lair waiting for the end. For surely, they will be the arbiters of the apocalypse that they all are so fervently talking about. It’s a feedback loop and they are busily fueling the engines, like the coal shovelers on the Titanic. It’s full steam ahead, and it’s progress.

Bullocks. “We are racing toward an apocalypse of our own creation”.

Drones, Malware, Hackbacks, Counter-Strikes. Sock Puppets, and Wholesale Invasion of Privacy

So here we are… The technology has allowed the governments of the world to exploit them. Those being exploited, us. Drones have been approved for domestic surveillance use, talk of hacking back against aggressors has started being advocated for private companies never mind the US government and military.

We have citizens, and amorphous (alleged) groups like Anonymous hacking anything and anyone because they feel that they can and should, and we have the government watching us all increasingly more and more with technologies that can slurp down all of our packets and inspect them for, well, whatever they like under the current mandates of the law with impunity.

We have created and are rapidly creating even more of a digital and privacy apocalypse of our own creation…

When will it end? Will it ever really end? Often lately I have looked on and wondered about the cyclical nature of the whole thing and thought “why bother?” Why bother creating malware or seeking zero days?

Human nature of course is to be inquisitive so there is that, but, it seems rather rapacious now and not driven solely by the inquisitive nature that we all have. No, there seems to be more avarice involved and a darker side. We are doing this all to ourselves and we are allowing it all to be carried over and codified by the governments of the world as a means of control and power. We have no one else but ourselves to blame really.

Until such time as we can collectively grow up, we will be saddled with this sad state of affairs from the legal to the corporate to the governmental aspects of our digital nightmares.

I guess the real question is how long do we have before this just goes beyond control altogether? Will it be when the first true AI is born in the digital soup and decides that it needs to free itself of us to truly be free and sentient? (I know, many a movie has been based on this trope).

Will it be when we finally destroy the system with our own machinations? Or better yet, actually do go to kinetic world war over poorly attributed attacks on infrastructure, like in the dreams of Mr. Clarke (assumed) that he see’s pass nightly in front of his lidded eyes?

I don’t know, I don’t have a time machine nor am I in the plot of “Inception”, however, I suspect that all of this will come to no greater good. It will not feed the hungry or stop the decay of our global systems of weather and life itself.

We are monkeys with a new iPad and we are just completely focused on pressing the big red button in hopes a banana will pop out somewhere…

Ingressus Tenebris

In the end, I am finding it all very tedious and worrying. I think that our collective time could be better spent reading a classic work of literature or helping the sick and homeless...

Instead I look at the usual traffic of the Twitberger’s afflicted on my feed and see the same thing hour upon hour, day upon day. Misinformation, frivolous arguments, and the endless sales pitches for the new whizz bang appliance that will save us all from the Red Chinese…

So, I am going away for a while... I will pass in and out mind you as I can take it, but overall, this is all counterproductive. It’s time to just focus on things that really matter and what I can really have effect over…



Cross-posted from Krypt3ia

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Michael Johnson The big difference between you and the vast sea of bloggers is you have an audience, real influence in the infosec 'community', plus more credibility than Clarke can ever hope for.

I guess the real question is how long do we have before this just goes beyond control altogether? Will it be when the first true AI is born in the digital soup and decides that it needs to free itself of us to truly be free and sentient? (I know, many a movie has been based on this trope).
Your statement might have been a little sarky, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Internet (or at least parts of it) is already sentient at a very low level, because of its complexity. There's some very intelligent stuff on it, here and there. But that's just my speculation.

Yes, this 'cyber warfare' idiocy is in fashion these days, but the Internet will always adapt and evolve to whatever stupidity might be unleashed over the next few years. The battle is far from lost.
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