Boeing’s new missile otherwise known as the Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project. It automatically disables PCs and other electronic devices as it soars through the skies, using a burst of powerful radio waves—and it was successfully tested last week.
The CHAMP tests took place in the Western Utah Desert on October 16th. As it flew by a two-story building, its on-board microwave system shut down every piece of electronic equipment running inside the place. In fact, the test went so well that it disabled all the cameras recording the event, too. Oops.
THE decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush’s presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the gradual militarization of the Internet. Washington has begun to cross the Rubicon. If it continues, contemporary warfare will change fundamentally as we move into hazardous and uncharted territory.
It is one thing to write viruses and lock them away safely for future use should circumstances dictate it. It is quite another to deploy them in peacetime. Stuxnet has effectively fired the starting gun in a new arms race that is very likely to lead to the spread of similar and still more powerful offensive cyberweaponry across the Internet. Unlike nuclear or chemical weapons, however, countries are developing cyberweapons outside any regulatory framework.
I hear politicians and military pundits using the logic of 1950′s warfare to justify cyberwarfare: that when they hit us, we can hit them back. As if a virus were a missile, or a similar physical weapon.
But the metaphor of traditional warfare breaks down when cyber weaponry can’t be controlled – and in fact, aren’t even physical objects. A virus is an idea — not a thing.
Assuming we can control their use, when they are by design, deeply chaotic, is a special kind of naievete. But it’s the kind of hubris we could – and should – expect from the country that first engaged in “preemptive warfare.”
The big loser in the Pentagon’s new budget? Ordinary human beings.
About 80,000 Army soldiers and 20,000 Marines are getting downsized. Half of the Army’s conventional combat presence in Europe is packing up and ending its post-Cold War staycation. Replacing them, according to the $613 billion budget previewed by the Pentagon on Thursday: unconventional special-operations forces; new bombers; new spy tools; new missiles for subs; and a veritable Cylon army of drones.
This is the first of the Pentagon’s new, smaller “austerity” budgets: it’s asking Congress for $525 billion (plus $88.4 billion for the Afghanistan war), compared to a $553 billion request (plus $117 billion in war cash) last year.
The idea of replacing human combatants with machines terrifies me. When the results of war are so disconnected from the actual citizens involved in the decision to make war, what stops us from engaging in military actions? The Vietnam War was eventually ended because of the cold reality of Americans seeing American body bags coming home, but what heartstrings would a broken machine body pull at?
Similarly, increasing the budget for mechanized warfare will only strengthen the grasp of the military-industrial complex, for as the perceived benefits outweight the potential sacrifice of human life, combined with the number of jobs and absurd level of profits to be had from producing these war machines, I can’t imagine the trend reversing anmy time soon. You can’t manufacture humans (per se), but you can manufacture mechanized, remote-controlled soldiers now, apparently.
As the technology becomes more proficient, these tools will undoubtedly become more accurate – meaning, fewer collateral civilian casualties for military strikes – which means they’ll be perceived as safer, leading to a positive feedback cycle. But whereas human soldiers can distinguish between a real enemy and a civilain far more accurately, relying on any number of real-world cues, machines will destroy whatever they’re aimed at without regard for potential errors in judgement. Soon, we’ll start hearing more about “acceptable losses” and “military-civilain death ratios” in terms of these unmanned strikes. And reducing warfare to a numbers game, is, in my opinion, completely unacceptable.
Without the remorse of traditional person-to-person warfare, without the moral restriction on civilian casualty, and with an absurdly high profit margin at work, will our humanity be left behind as we continue to engage in worldwide wars on multiple fronts? Can we really stomach the idea of killing foreigners for our own ideology, when we put nothing of ourselves at risk as well?
A computer virus has infected the cockpits of America’s Predator and Reaper drones, logging pilots’ every keystroke as they remotely fly missions over Afghanistan and other warzones.
The virus, first detected nearly two weeks ago by the military’s Host-Based Security System, has not prevented pilots at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada from flying their missions overseas. Nor have there been any confirmed incidents of classified information being lost or sent to an outside source. But the virus has resisted multiple efforts to remove it from Creech’s computers, network security specialists say. And the infection underscores the ongoing security risks in what has become the U.S. military’s most important weapons system.
I certainly understand the tactical advantage of removing our soldiers from combat situations, but I fear what this technology implies. The drones are tools, which can be hijacked and reused – just like any other weapon of war. Or worse, they can be used to justify engaging in conflicts we otherwise normally wouldn’t partake in due to risk. But when we start to value our own lives so much more than our enemies that we put the destrictuive power in the hands of autonomous agents of war, and disconnect ourselves from the reality and consequences of our war machine, we open the door to our military system being hijacked from within, and fostering even more ‘shadow wars.’
Unknown hackers have broken into the security networks of Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N) and several other U.S. military contractors, a source with direct knowledge of the attacks told Reuters.
It was not immediately clear what kind of data, if any, was stolen by the hackers. But the networks of Lockheed and other military contractors contain sensitive data on future weapons systems as well as military technology currently used in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Weapons makers are the latest companies to be breached through sophisticated attacks that have pierced the defenses of huge corporations including Sony (SNE.N), Google Inc (GOOG.O) and EMC Corp (EMC.N). Security experts say that it is virtually impossible for any company or government agency to build a security network that hackers will be unable to penetrate..
Well, that’s comforting.
While iPhones are unquestionably the popular choice for preening media types hanging out in Soho, it seems that the Google system is the weapon of choice for military folk for hunting down insurgents in Fallujah.
A prototype device called the Joint Battle Command-Platform being developed by MITRE is already undergoing tests with Android used to run the software as part of a bid to reduce the amount of weighty equipment being lugged around by troops.
There are also already a variety of uses for the smartphone such as apps for keeping track of friendly forces, no doubt also handy for the US’s cannon fodder allies, and ‘critical messaging’ which can exchange important data such as medevac requests.
Why would the army choose to give our soldiers the most unsecured mobile platform in the world? Especially on the heels of the BotNet disaster a month or so ago, I’m very concerned about the potential for critical military information to be compromised by rogue applications installed by unwary users at a whim.
Maybe there will be some kind of private/enterprise security suite developed for Andorid, but there’s no fixing the fact that the platform is fundamentally far more vulnerable than something like BlackBerry’s enterprise-level security features.
Please, let’s just not cross the bridge into allowing our military to pilot drones via handheld mobile devices. It’s a logical extension of bringing as much safety to our personnel as possible, but I find the gamification of war a very troubling possibility. Adding unsecured, powerful communications devices into the mix just seems like a truly terrible idea.
What happens when the network gets hacked, and clever enemies figure out how to ‘spoof’ enemy contact signals? It seems like a very small step to make these phones our own Achilles heel.
While entertainment media tends to gross me out with broad generalities, unsupportable facts, and unnecessary sensationalism, somehow John Stewart manages to always reign his hyperbole just in time when the facts support it.
John McCain is currently my #1 Bigot to Hate. Demonstratable Hypocrisy is just the tip of the iceberg.