Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Computer Virus turns back Armor Brigade

I had to admit that I did a double take when I saw the headline: PLA Armor Brigade Exercise Fails Due To Computer Virus:
According to news.ifeng, an unidentified PLA armor brigade was the victim of a computer virus that caused electronic ammunition resupply orders to show up blank. During the force-on-force, Red and Blue exercise, operations were hampered due to a computer virus that left the main attack force without ammunition resupply.
Now I initially thought that this was a crock; hyperventilating Internet security junkies pimping for hits. But the more I thought about it, the more concerning it became. Especially once my thinking coalesced around two thoughts:
  1. A lot of hacking and malware activity is coming out of the PRC these days, so it's very interesting indeed to see that "they have the same problem that we do".
  2. Logistics is the logical (so to speak) place to start when you start thinking about force on force (government vs. government) cyberwarfare.
If you think this through, it's the perfect "live fire" exercise for ChiCom computer warriors. How do you stop a modern army? The key is in the old saw:
When people start talking about warfare, amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.
An armored brigade needs tons of supplies - especially gas and ammunition. If you can't take out the tanks, then throwing a huge dollip of sand into the gears of the resupply effort will do very nicely indeed. One brigade gets the other's gas, the other gets the first's ammo. After 3 days, nothing can move, or shoot.

So, from a threat perspective, this is plausible. So what about our side? How does the vulnerability landscape look?

The tank brigade isn't the weak point. There aren't too many folks who'd want to stand up against it. But what about the supply chain computers?

Now I have to say that I have absolutely no knowledge of the state of our cybersecurity here. It may be that the finest minds and technology have MILnet* hardened to where you could drop an anvil on it from a failed HALO exercise, and it wouldn't miss a beat.


And maybe our cybersecurity is Teh sUx0Rs.

* Yeah, I know it's not MILnet any more. The names have been changed because it's none of your danged business.

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