Researchers at Shadowserver, a volunteer group that tracks
malicious network activity, reported that the Web site of the Georgian
president, Mikheil Saakashvili,
had been rendered inoperable for 24 hours by multiple D.D.O.S. attacks.
They said the command and control server that directed the attack was
based in the United States and had come online several weeks before it
began the assault.
As it turns out, the July attack may have
been a dress rehearsal for an all-out cyberwar once the shooting
started between Georgia and Russia. According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a known cyberattack had coincided with a shooting war.
I'm thinking that it's a coincidence, because there's really no reason for Russia to farm out work like that to the United States - a denial of service attack should be well within the abilities of their local talent. But if not, well, what exactly is going on there? Is the US-based server a "proxy" server? Or have we gone completely through the Tom Clancy looking glass and we're now seeing hotshot "cyber-mercs" who rent out their services to eager, well-heeled governments? Or is it something even weirder than that? The Times article also sees links between the cyber-attacks and a known Russian organized crime group that specializes in online criminal activities such as identity theft and distributing child pornography.
Of course, in the end, it's always the those meddling kids' fault:
A Russian government spokesman said that it was possible that
individuals in Russia or elsewhere had taken it upon themselves to
start the attacks.
“I cannot exclude this possibility,” Yevgeniy
Khorishko, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Washington, said.
“There are people who don’t agree with something and they try to
express themselves. You have people like this in your country.”
Wired’s military technology blog, Danger Room,has video up of the Pentagon’s much ballyhooed Active Denial System – also known as the ‘pain ray’ - being used on a human volunteer. They also have links to the Joint Nonlethal Weapons Directorate home page which features more videos of live subjects being zapped, and a link to a segment from the Discovery Channel program Future Weapons (which they dub “weapons porn”). You should check them out – live reporters step in front of microwave pain ray, get their insides cooked for a couple of seconds,leap away, and everybody has a jolly good laugh over the whole thing. See? Harmless. Heck, it’s no worse than a good nipple twist or a fraternity…um, hazing…
OK, bad analogy.
And for all I know it is harmless – if you can jump out of the way as soon as they turn the thing on. What I’m concerned about is the day they use that thing on someone tied to a post. That won’t happen, you say? What on earth makes you say that?
I still believe using this thing in an actual crowd control situation it will be a disaster. I marched in the big anti-war rally in New York City in February of 2003, right before the invasion of Iraq. NYPD had blocked certain streets with barricades, vehicles and/or mounted officers to concentrate the crowd into the smallest, most controllable area possible. Fair enough, I can see why they’d want to do that. Now, the main rally point was the UN Building on First Avenue and 44th Street; the closest I managed to get was Second Avenue and 49th Street – and it was a solid wall of people in front of and behind me. I could have crowd surfed down to the UN. We’re talking about 100,000 people in that limited area alone. If for some reason the Active Denial System had been employed at the front of a crowd like that, a crowd focused into a tight controllable area, the resulting stampede to get the hell away from it would have been a nightmare.
The weapon itself may be non-lethal, but you can’t always say the same about people who feel like their intestines are on fire.