It’s Oct. 4, 2015. An emergency call is issued from Unified Combat Command. The order is meant to raise the military alert level to defcon 1. Further instructions order F-35s out of North Dakota, North Carolina, Virginia and Massachusetts on various intercept courses toward unverified visual contacts approaching over the North Atlantic and Arctic.
Only nobody receives the orders.
No one hears the call. No red alert is implemented. The nuclear silos remain closed. The pilots never climb into their planes. Communications are dead. Similarly, in Canada, norad is completely surprised. Radar systems in the far north report nothing unusual that morning. Computers flash “all systems okay,” until it is too late.
It is as if a trumpet of war had been blown and no one heard the call.
Then the bombs begin falling.
Foreign intelligence agencies later report that America never responded in any coordinated way to the attack—because it couldn’t.
Nobody received orders because that morning, U.S. and Canadian command and control centers suffered a devastating cyberattack that crippled computer communications—and officials didn’t even know it. Ground stations appeared to be communicating with satellite systems, radar stations reported clear skies—but it was all a mirage. Most government officials were still distracted by the perplexing power blackouts that were plaguing the eastern grid.
America lost the war before the first shots were even fired. Overconfidence and overreliance on technology had made America a sitting duck.
Until this past year, this kind of cyberwarfare scenario was the stuff of theory—scary theory—but with little real-world evidence of actual use.
That has changed. In June 2010, a computer virus named Stuxnet was found infecting computer systems around the world. But unlike previous computer viruses, this one was not designed to help someone make money or steal classified information. This virus was much more dangerous.
According to experts, Stuxnet was completely unique. It had an array of capabilities including the ability to shutdown oil pipelines, cause industrial equipment to overheat, and even turn up the pressure in nuclear power plants. More insidiously, Stuxnet could tell the system operators that everything was normal.
Even though Stuxnet quietly spread to thousands of industrial computer systems in almost every major country, it remained dormant until its code came into contact with a very specific target, which in this case was the centrifuges at Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.
Once infecting Iranian computers, it began to systematically destroy not only software, but the industrial machines the software operated as well—all the while telling Iranian engineers that everything was operating as designed. The Institute for Science and Technology reported that Stuxnet ruined 1,000 Iranian centrifuges before the virus was impeded.
Stuxnet was a weapon—the first to be made entirely out of code. And it heralds an evolution in the way warfare is conducted around the world. It revolutionizes modern warfare.
Ralph Langner, a German cybersecurity researcher, called Stuxnet “a precision, military-grade cyber missile.” It was “a 100-percent-directed cyberattack aimed at destroying an industrial process in the physical world,” he said. “This is not about espionage, as some have said. This is a 100 percent sabotage attack.”
Stuxnet should be a giant warning shot for modern, technology-dependent America.
According to officials, Stuxnet required massive amounts of man-hours and resources to create. Although no one has taken responsibility for it, it is clear that one sovereign government attacked another. It was an act of war—but because of the anonymity of the cyber-realm, no one knows for sure who actually fired the shot. Was it America? Israel? Germany?
And if you don’t know for certain who attacked you, who do you respond against? It renders Mutually Assured Destruction obsolete. Those you believe to be friends could be working against you.
According to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, new technologies coming online make it virtually impossible to trace attacks back to their point of origin.
This is the new world we live in. It is no longer a world of petty cyberthieves and simple cybercrime. It is a world of nation-scale cyberwarfare. And when computer viruses can be used to destroy everything from the machines that run factories to the pumping stations that bring oil to refineries, there are a lot of potential targets, and casualties.
It is a world America isn’t prepared for.
In 2009, the Wall Street Journal reported that the control systems for the U.S. electric power grid had been hacked and that secret back doors had probably been created so that the attackers could get back in at will.
As the Journal later reported, there is no intelligence value that would justify this kind of cyberespionage. The only reason for penetrating the grid’s controls is to be in a position to crash it, or use that control to blackmail America by threatening to damage a critical component of its economy.
In the event of war, Chinese strategists have regularly written about how cyberattacks could be used to level the playing field with a militarily superior enemy. It looks like nations are already preparing.
America’s top defense contractors may be bleeding secrets too. Just this past month, the largest U.S. defense contractor, Lockheed, was a victim of cyberespionage. Apparently someone stole the “secret sauce” behind the computer security system that protects its most critical computer networks. The same security systems are also used to protect the secrets of Raytheon and Northrop Grumman.
On June 15, hackers took down the cia website, defaced it, and published a membership database online.
On June 12, the Telegraph reported that the International Monetary Fund had been hit by a “major cyberattack.” The motive may have been to gain access to information that could “move markets.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, U.S. officials know well that the government of China is systematically attacking government as well as corporate computer networks in the U.S. “Beijing is successfully stealing research and development, software source code, manufacturing know-how and government plants,” it wrote.
But these are just the targets we know about. As Stuxnet revealed, computer viruses can stay dormant for prolonged periods of time. Then when they suddenly awake, you can have secrets stolen, infrastructure ruined—be literally under attack—all while your computer tells you that everything is status normal.
And then the bombs go off.
America’s overreliance on technology could prove to be its Achilles heel, wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in 2005: “Exploiting this vulnerable point could trigger the greatest shock in the history of warfare!”
In that article, he wrote: “I believe one key end-time Bible prophecy could well be fulfilled through [cyberwarfare]: ‘They have blown the trumpet, even to make all ready; but none goeth to the battle: for my wrath is upon all the multitude thereof’ (Ezekiel 7:14). The trumpet of war is to be blown in Israel—mainly America and Britain. (If you would like more information, request our free booklet on Ezekiel. All of our literature is free.) It seems everybody is expecting our people to go into battle, but the greatest tragedy imaginable occurs! Nobody goes to battle—even though the trumpet is blown! Will it be because of computer terrorism?”
In today’s technologically advanced world, the margin between “all systems normal” and disaster is smaller than ever. In the computer age, it can be just fractions of a second. ▪