Blogger Richard Silverstein claims to have received a document that outlines an Israeli first strike against Iran. The plan seems fairly comprehensive.
As this story develops I am sure there will much discussion. My concern is with two parts of the plan that could induce collateral damage fro the rest of the world. One is cyber, the other is fiber.
First cyber. From Silverstein’s translation of the document:
“The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders. The internet, telephones, radio and television, communications satellites, and fiber optic cables leading to and from critical installations—including underground missile bases at Khorramabad and Isfahan—will be taken out of action. “
The chances are pretty high that the teams involved in creating Stuxnet and Flame and maybe Duqu and Gauss would be in a position to architect such an attack against Iran’s infrastructure.
Along with severing fiber entry points Iran’s communication could be shut down. But what happens to the Internet when such an attack is launched? Will the weaponized malware work perfectly and not escape to the rest of the world?
This document pretty much describes all-out war with Iran. In such a gamble do the planners even care about minor disruptions to power grids in the rest of the world? Or does that not carry much weight in the balance?
This specter of an Israel-Iran war, whoever starts it, has become a looming threat for IT and communication systems everywhere.
The document goes on with this:
“The electrical grid throughout Iran will be paralyzed and transformer stations will absorb severe damage from carbon fiber munitions which are finer than a human hair, causing electrical short circuits whose repair requires their complete removal. This would be a Sisyphean task in light of cluster munitions which would be dropped, some time-delayed and some remote-activated through the use of a satellite signal.”
Carbon whiskers unleashed to disable transformers??? Oh yes. I remember my very first boss, Curt Vail, who had introduced computer structural analysis at Boeing, relating the story of Boeing engineers who were developing carbon whiskers, amazingly strong and stiff materials.
Somehow just a few grams got released into the atmosphere and shorted out transformers throughout the Pacific Northwest. I do not like the idea of kilograms of this stuff escaping the target area and even reaching the upper atmosphere. It could be decades before power grids could be free of this menace.
Here are two credible threats to global systems: a massive cyber attack that could spread to the rest of world and interfere with SCADA systems everywhere and carbon whiskers that could short out power transmission systems.
Defenses against both should be put in place as quickly as possible.