Tuesday, May 29, 2007


England's Daily Mail offers a cyber-threat scenario which security experts say is almost certain to one day soon become a reality:

At first it would be no more than a nuisance. No burning skyscrapers, no underground explosions, just a million electronic irritations up and down the land.

Thousands of government web pages suddenly vanish to be replaced with the Internet's version of the Testcard - that dreaded screen '404 - Not Found' or, more amusingly, some pastiche or parody.

Then the Labour website starts to promise a wholesale renationalisation of the railways. The popular response this generates turns to amusement then bemusement as everything from Jaguar to BT is, the sites claim, to be taken back into state hands.

When conservatives.org.uk starts to promise compulsory repatriation and the return of capital punishment, bemusement turns to alarm.

The disruption continues: thousands of popular websites, from eBay to YouTube, start malfunctioning or are replaced by malicious parodies.

Tens of millions of pounds are wiped off the share price of companies like Amazon as fears grow that the whole Internet credit card payment network is now vulnerable and insecure.

Eventually, reports start to flood in that hundreds of thousands of personal bank accounts have been raided overnight.

Panicked bank chiefs and PR men go on TV to try to reassure, promising that this is no more than an electronic glitch, but thousands of anxious citizens take to the streets, many in tears, and pour angrily into the banks to demand their savings in cash.

When the ATM system goes down, the government steps in. A task force is appointed. There is a rush on hard cash that leads to a shortage of notes and coins.

Soon, it is clear that the United Kingdom (and much of Europe) has been subjected to a sustained and effective cyber-terrorist attack. Disaster is narrowly avoided when a series of sophisticated viruses disrupt the workings of the National Air Traffic Control System.

Slowly, the computer network is disinfected; the viruses, botnets and worms that are the electronic versions of bombs and bullets are defused and rendered harmless. No one has died, but the attack has cost Britain �10bn, and share prices take months to recover.

Such a scenario, say some experts, is not only possible but likely in the near future.

In fact, the article notes, a similar scenario actually occured in Estonia last year. The account is in the story at the link.

Imagine if U.S. banks or Wall Street were attacked and your life's savings were wiped out over night. Were this to happen on a large scale it could easily produce immense panic and chaos in the country. Just thought I'd mention this in case you were feeling too cheery this morning.


Re: Letter to a Young Woman

My friend Matt writes to comment on last week's post titled Letter to a Young Woman:

[In Letter to a Young Woman] you paint, perhaps without knowing it, a solid picture of a Christian approach to cognitive behavioral therapy. Spiritual Depression by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones is the best book I've read in a similar vein. Cognitive behavioral therapy is VERY trendy right now. And with research on brain plasticity, and on the effectiveness of CBT over meds, it's a very intriguing approach to depression and anxiety, but also to life in general. (Listen here)

The basic thesis is that emotions are the physical responses that our body has to thoughts. Change the thoughts, the feelings follow. Follow your feelings, and they'll control you and bury you in falsehood. You have to, as Lloyd-Jones says in taking his cue from Psalms 42 and 43, upbraid yourself. Take yourself by the shoulders and speak truth to yourself even if you don't feel it. And then, instead of trying to be happy and spending all your time asking if you DO FEEL happy, get on with your life and do good things. Be virtuous. Love God. Happiness follows.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing that letter.

I'm glad it was well-received.


Re: The Real Thing

Byron writes to offer some balance to yesterday's post titled The Real Thing. I think he's largely correct in his criticisms of Michelle Malkin's post to which I linked, and I've posted his e-mail on our Feedback page.

In my reply to him I wrote that:

There is very little in your reply that I can argue or disagree with. I think you're right that Malkin tends to be selective in her outrage and that there's a difference between protesting what is done with our tax dollars and what is done by those over whom we have no control.

That's why in my post I referred to the silence, not of American human rights advocates, but of the international human rights community. Their silence (at least so far) on the tactics of al Qaeda is inexcusable, in my mind, because they stand against all human rights abuse, not just that sponsored by nations to which they pay taxes.

They should, by their raised voices, be setting a standard by which Muslims around the world can measure the conduct of those who act in their name. If they remain silent when manuals such as this are discovered it sends the message that Muslims are not expected to abide by the same standards of decency that others are.

So far, though they were outspoken about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, I have heard nothing about the horrific acts perpetrated by AQ. But perhaps they have said, or will say, much that I just haven't heard about.