Quote note (#247)

John McAfee (“running for president on a cybersecurity platform”) has a way with words:

“The number one problem in the world today,” he said, “is America’s decline in its cybersecurity.” According to McAfee, we’re in a cyber war with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians, and our technology is twenty years behind. […] “I think this is the greatest danger that America has ever faced,” he said gravely. “In a cyber war, the first thing we’re going to lose is our power. A month and a half ago, two fifteen-year-old boys hacked into the Ukrainian power grid. Do you think the Russians and Chinese cannot do the same thing with us? And without power, what happens? We have no power, we have no food.” McAfee’s voice rose in the middle of sentences, brimming with energy. “Half of us would survive a nuclear threat,” he said forcefully. “But no one would survive a cyber attack. No one. And if we do, we’re going to be in tatters on the street eating rats.” […] … “We are on the brink of devastation,” he warned me many times during our two days together. “It doesn’t even have to be me, but our country is lost if we do not have a cybersecurity expert as president.”

May 11, 2016admin 39 Comments »
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39 Responses to this entry

  • Brett Stevens Says:

    According to McAfee, we’re in a cyber war with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians, and our technology is twenty years behind.

    In other words, our enemies will attack us by any means possible, including using computers.

    But no one would survive a cyber attack. No one.

    Insanity. When the power grid goes down, people find ways to survive.

    [Reply]

    RxFerret Reply:

    Yeah, I agree with that. I think the social turmoil might be fairly sever (think of Lucifer’s Hammer), but McAfee is probably using hyperbole here to get his point across. So, bad, but not THAT bad.

    [Reply]

    Dave Reply:

    Yes. This guy makes some great points and we should all pay attention, but saying no one would survive is utterly ridiculous.
    My family and I lived five weeks without heat and hot water after Hurricane Sandy. The first week of that without any electricity of any kind, and this was in November when the days are shorter and cold at night. Everyone on the entire island of Manhattan south of 34th street was in the same boat and we all survived, in fact my family and I immediately adapted and learned to enjoy it, eating dinner by candlelight and taking cold showers every morning.
    One begins to understand how soft most modern city dwellers are but also how quickly survival instincts kick in and people immediately band together to help one another and look out for each other.
    Of course the collapse of the power grid on a national level would present serious problems, including looting, but people of good will absolutely band together to help each other and police their own communities, just like our great grandparents did.
    At times I actually look forward to it as those who are prepared for it can actually thrive. A situation like that will show those with intelligence and discipline just how much they can do without interference from the state.

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    A friend of mine is that kind of spoiled child turned adult whose hands basically grew to the Nintendo controller, and he was touristing in Thailand with wife and child when the tsunami hit. They had to run up the hill because it was hitting their beach hotel. And the only damage was their lost property and emotional scar. You see, the important part was that they aren’t stupid. The part of being spoiled beta showed as his first reaction was panic, scared shitless, “I can’t believe it” and so on, but as they were sitting on that hill, they calmed down, started to think, and dealt with it.

    You don’t want these typical modern betas with you in the proverbial trenches because they can’t react quickly to danger, they freeze up and panic. But their longer-term survival value is not so bad because that depends more on intelligence than courage.

    This is really the only thing that gives me some sliver of hope about the future of Europe. It’s cucks led by idiots, but the average common cuck can still think fairly well and when finally forced to face reality, can figure out how to deal with it.

    Their primary problem is really being too optimistic and waiting too long. Once I was snowed in a European motorway, I took an exit while the road was still barely drivable, found hotels are already full (some people are smarter/more pessimistic than me), figured out the school is the emergency shelter, and was snoring happily on the emergency beds by 22:00. A lot of folks figured “oh the AUTHORITIES will surely deal with this snow and we can drive on” and as a result they were waiting there in the cold until morning, typically without food and drink, when the rescue services managed to dig themselves through all that snow. But I think they will learn.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    You think the Nintendo controller was bad. Just wait for the generation that grows into the Oculus Rift.

    michael Reply:

    ok some would survive i for instance have a hydro electric plant and a hydrogen electrolyzer and still im four bridges and 15 miles into the national forest on mountain roads and trust me those bridges wont be there five minutes after TSHTF. People up in Idaho and the rural america have been preping for just about anything at least since clinton assault ban.. so everything from freezedried antibiotics to seed banks and ammo has been thought of particularly how to kill any unprepared moochers trying to crash the party.
    however I wouldnt giuve long odds on people outside those areas and not hooked in with government to survive.You tale of surviving sandy is not a good test. most of the city had power the government could communicate food fuel medicine was still moving into the cities the niggers were still in check you just had a flooded basement and no electric for a bit. Now imagine the military has you locked down you cant leave and they cant send in supplies because they all spoiled and it isnt safe to go in cause the niggers are rioting raping etc and hardly any whites have guns and none could even change a tire you cellphone wouldnt work even if you could charge them no street lights bodies are rotting nigger cops are looting like they did in new orleans now how long can you survive that.

    [Reply]

    Dave Reply:

    Yeah, but no. Sandy was a great test and much worse than I stated. We simply made the best of it. Lots of folks did the same and the usual suspects waited for handouts. Cell phones did not work for a week in lower Manhattan and there was no way to contact police short of walking to the nearest precinct, which was running on generator power. Perishable food perished in under 24 hours, leaving not much but dried goods or processed food with preservatives. We lived one avenue west of the projects and definitely heard gunshots starting after dark on the 2nd night with no power. It was more than a flooded basement and no electric for a bit, but you weren’t there so you wouldn’t know. Live without heat and hot water in November for a long month and then get back to me.
    We also have relatives upstate as well as Quebec with rural homesteads, so we know where to go if the situation warrants it.

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 3:08 pm Reply | Quote
  • Skilluminati Says:

    All the cybersecurity experts I know — the ones with actual expertise — are alcoholics.

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    once Mati Aharoni wrote on backtrack forum about conversation with academician security expert. muts point was that security have tobe centered around treats and not in ‘general’. and he began to show him how to attack. short after this gentlemen run out of the room and never come back àgain.

    they drink because they know, they are protecting shit.

    [Reply]

    TheDividualist Reply:

    Could you maybe ask them to recommend one good book to start with? I would like to understand the basics of it.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    Seconded

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    I cant recommend any such book as I never read one. some reliable info can be found in reports from RAND or Kaspersky section on Cyber-Threat Research & Intelligence
    https://press.kaspersky.com/

    Brett Stevens Reply:

    No school like the old school:

    http://www.phrack.org/

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 4:14 pm Reply | Quote
  • SVErshov Says:

    just usual drama ‘milking the cow’. no wounder they even did not mentioned Iran, amount of humiliation from iranian cyber attacks is enourmouse, they may go long long way so American public may never learn about it.

    one remarkable episode, from ‘sequel’ how it all become so cyberinsecure. in begining of 90s MS introduced Windows NT which proposed to become main OS for Internet. It contains file by name nsa.key. it was nothing but encryption key to encrypt and send info to NSA. that was really idiotic not even bother to change the name. I would speculate that at this time Bill Gates send the message warning everbody about where it will go from now on. No way, he didn’t know that his new OS contains such file, still he did not renamed it into something more obscure. history will never forget you Bill.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 4:16 pm Reply | Quote
  • Ur-mail Says:

    Catastrophizing is an ever popular strategy for winning votes and press.

    [Reply]

    John Reply:

    And business. He originated the “your computer could be infected” meme.

    [Reply]

    Seth Largo Reply:

    The new show, Halt and Catch Fire, recreates the moment when he first came up with that idea. Great, Marshall McLuhan-esque drama. The main character is a hybrid of various industry “visionaries” in the 1980s.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 4:36 pm Reply | Quote
  • A.B. Prosper Says:

    The easiest solution would be to ban networking from critical systems. You’d physically have to go to the location to get access.

    This would be more expensive but a lot safer and say old fashioned manual electric meters could not be hacked remotely.

    Or as I want to say sometimes “Did new BSG tech us nothing!”

    [Reply]

    Headwinds of Reality Reply:

    I would agree with this, 20 years ago it would have been common sense, but now we have become addicted to “connectivity” to the point where we are dangerously exposed to cyber attack.

    [Reply]

    Headwinds of Reality Reply:

    Also people may recall that infrastructure is still vulnerable to old school attacks.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/12/27/military-style-raid-on-california-power-station-spooks-u-s/

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    I read there are several mega transformers that can take out whole regions which could trigger a domino effect on grid and that they take months to fabricate and install

    Xoth Reply:

    You can also infect via USB sticks. If memory serves, Stuxnet used that to get started.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 7:37 pm Reply | Quote
  • wu-wei Says:

    According to McAfee, we’re in a cyber war with the Russians, Chinese, and Iranians, and our technology is twenty years behind.

    I would have agreed with this back in say, 2008. But in the post-wikileaks world, we now know that it’s fairly safe to assume that the NSA has its tentacles in, at the very least, virtually every closed-source application and internet-relevant device. (Make whatever you will of the recent i-phone/FBI scrabble.) USG was never behind the cyber war game; it was always on top.

    For example, remember that virus several years back which did severe damage to Iranian centrifuges, was almost certainly a product of USG, probably in cahoots with Israel.

    No wonder the Chinese are attempting to build their own CPUs, protocols, etc; virtually all internet traffic travels through the United States, and unless your data is reasonably encrypted, its a safe bet to suggest that USG is probably analyzing it. (For governments and other important individuals and entities, anyway. I really don’t give a shit if the NSA reads my emails, personally, and I’m quite certain they don’t care about me, either.)

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 8:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • Grotesque Body Says:

    “The only true security is knowing how to live with insecurity,” or something like that – Nassim Taleb

    [Reply]

    Alrenous Reply:

    Spot-on. The solution isn’t to harden the targets. The solution is to build such that, when (not if!) the targets are lost, we can casually shrug it off.

    [Reply]

    Brett Stevens Reply:

    That is the Google strategy regarding server hosting: make many cells, plan for failure, and be able to lose a lot before the system is impacted.

    The “one big fortress” notion died many years ago, but as usual, most of the market is trying to catch up.

    [Reply]

    Seth Largo Reply:

    Real security is trusting no one.

    [Reply]

    Grotesque Body Reply:

    Real security is like Jell-O pudding – Bill Cosby

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 11th, 2016 at 9:35 pm Reply | Quote
  • TheDividualist Says:

    I think the solution isn’t just security hardening but also having a “dumb”, not computer controlled backup for the essential systems. There needs to be a way to fall back to 1945 levels of tech in any segment of a modern society somewhat gracefully i.e. with pain, gnashing of teens and suffering, surely, but fatalities <0.1%

    But it isn't even true of cars lately. Ten years ago a friend of mine had couldn't ignite his BMW because the software crashed. A software failure can literally lead to not being able to drive a car because there is no "screw it, bypass the computer and let me drive manually" switch. This is really, really bad/stupid.

    Come to think of it, I have not verified if my older dumbphone still works. An Android exploit could render my whole family unphonable. So count me as stupid, too, I will check up the dumbphone this weekend.

    [Reply]

    michael Reply:

    any car post points will not work post electro magnetic blast my truck and plane are prepped for that you can protect them in lead lined shelters etc but what if they are nor parked i keep some some phones and computer spares protected with a lot of files geared towards survival info eventually i want some ham radio with internet system protected like that surviving though is an expensive paranoid thing until its not

    [Reply]

    Xoth Reply:

    I would assume modern cars are subject to remote control by now. (Andrew Breitbart RIP.) Perhaps even mass remote control, what fun!

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 12th, 2016 at 7:39 am Reply | Quote
  • Erebus Says:

    John Robb has been writing about this for more than a decade. His thoughts on the subject are interesting. (He’s definitely a writer worth following.)

    On cyber threats to infrastructure.

    Just how easy is it to disrupt infrastructure?

    Infrastructure meltdowns.

    Infrastructural design flaws.

    Cascading infrastructural systems failure.

    The takeaway:

    “Global infrastructure networks are the Achilles heel of the great powers. They form the basis of our wealth and our daily function yet remain extremely vulnerable.”

    “In today’s complex world, infrastructure failures aren’t limited to a single network. They spread across networks due to a complex interplay of interdependencies. What’s worse is that these interdependencies are often both tightly coupled (connections that rapidly spread a failure to other systems) and non-linear (feedback loops magnify the impact of failures).”

    “The only long term defense against cyber warfare and offensive cyber criminality (and the threat and disruption will only grow with time as more systems are integrated), is to move towards resilient communities. At that point, cyber attacks will be little more than an annoyance.”

    The last point has been made previously on this thread.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 12th, 2016 at 7:56 am Reply | Quote
  • Anonymous Says:

    Possible counterpoint to some of the optimism above: the Japan nuclear earthquake disaster. If I remember right, Japan C&C was so paralyzed that the Americans had to give them a kick in the rear to get them going, and even then they kept making bad decisions. I don’t know whether this poor performance gets chalked up to East Asian conformity or perhaps to Japan’s advanced de-masculinization – the latter will reach us eventually (imagine Sandy with every decision maker from government down to household being a woman or “woman”).

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 12th, 2016 at 12:40 pm Reply | Quote
  • michael Says:

    Threats from other states are kind of madd protected you shut down nyse and nasdaq and china and russia are fucked pretty good too thus new world order on the other hand if shit gets bad enough nukes may also fly the real problem is niggers doing something like this obviously not black ones too stupid but sand niggers perhaps

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 12th, 2016 at 4:19 pm Reply | Quote
  • Oliver Cromwell Says:

    Hysterical bullshit. We had electrical generation long before we had public computer networks; the second is in no way needed by the first.

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 13th, 2016 at 7:38 am Reply | Quote
  • cyborg_nomade Says:

    the revenge of the nerds never made so much sense.

    how long from this to neocameralism?

    [Reply]

    SVErshov Reply:

    according to Chinese military scholars window of opportunity will be closed by 2020. who will be closing it have to be seen.
    sourse: report to US congress 2015 about advances of Chinese army.

    [Reply]

    cyborg_nomade Reply:

    2020 is close, but maybe Elon Musk can build his drone army until then (with USG contract money, for sure)

    [Reply]

    Posted on May 13th, 2016 at 10:13 am Reply | Quote
  • This Week in Reaction (2016/05/15) - Social Matter Says:

    […] Also from Land, a cyber-security related Quote Note from John McAfee. […]

    Posted on May 18th, 2016 at 8:24 am Reply | Quote

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