The Gang of Four

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
20 September, 2016
Editorial: 32
Fecha de publicación original: 13 agosto, 1996

Date of publication: 13/8/1996. Editorial 032.

He that commits a fault, thinks that everyone speaks of it

The ministers of the G7, the group of the world’s wealthiest countries, want to keep a watchful eye on Internet because, they say, it is becoming like the cave of Ali Baba and the forty terrorists. The Net, it seems, is the new training ground for these “extra- parliamentary” activities. There is now no need to go to the Sudan, Libya or the forests of Kentucky. All you need to do is arm yourself first with a modem. The rest of the arsenal comes through the cable. Meanwhile, the USA, the richest country in the world, has created a commission to draw up a plan to counteract cyberterrorism. According to the security agencies located in the White House, we are on the point of falling into the hands of men who are capable of hacking into telephone systems, telematic and electrically distributed networks, all kinds of computers and consequently the computerised data bases stored in them. According to the commission, these are unscrupulous individuals set on sowing chaos like digital rabbits. State security is now dependent on bits, and the bits are unprotected. So – they must be shielded. But, first we must have a good anti-cyberterrorist plan to find these cyberterrorists.

The commission is made up of the Gang of Four, those who are most knowledgeable on this subject: the Department of Defence, the CIA, the FBI and the top secret National Security Agency (NSA). If, as they assure us, there are so many people able to do so many things on computer, one can’t help asking “And how do you know that?” It is a rhetorical question, like any other, which underscores the real question: And who will defend us from the Gang of Four? When something untoward happens on the networks how will we know who has really committed the infraction? How far will they go in the name of State defence to find out what each one of us is doing in order to foresee “our attacks”?

Don’t bother calling the press office of these security departments in search of answers either. You can be sure they will say nothing that can be used against them. It is much more entertaining to browse through specialised magazines in general circulation in libraries or on the Net, where they take perverse pleasure in their own investigations. Here you can find the best examples of cyberterrorism imaginable. But, of course, state cyberterrorism is the name of their favourite game. Let’s take a look at an example.

A pilot has just received a clear message, accompanied by the usual jargon from his squadron comrades: “Prepare for refuelling. Long range mission. Over” When the pilot of the fighter jet starts to input the coordinates, the same voice on his head phones says, “Return to base” Over”. For a few seconds he hesitates. What’s happened? During this short time another order reaches him: “Enter into combat in 8 minutes. Prepare the firing device. The radar is active. Over”. By this time any normal human being would bring the plane down, put it on the duty commander’s desk and tell him to, “Take this and stick it you know where!”. Mission accomplished, because this is precisely the aim of the messages: to drive the pilot round the bend. The only thing is the mission was accomplished by the enemy. It was the enemy who was exciting the neurons of the pilot through the headphones while the latter had not the remotest idea he was a victim of digital warfare.

This system is explained in a recent issue of Aviation Weekly and Space Technology. The authors? The CIA and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. It all begins when a message from the enemy’s radio is intercepted. First of all this message is divided into segments of less than a quarter of a second and then put into a “digital cocktail shaker”, where the core of the system generates new messages with the original voice. From this moment on unstoppable chaos is unleashed and penetrates the networks entangling the unwitting enemy. A 2.0 version of the system intercepts the voice of the operator, breaks it down into basic phonemes and creates a template of each sound. The only thing the US forces operator (armed, civil or para-military) has to do from then on is to speak to the system. The system will then fragment his voice, isolate the sounds and look for the corresponding templates. His voice will then be substituted by the one stored, and a new message will be generated with the voice of the enemy. Anyone who does not obey this false order will be punished. What’s more, it will be for the judges to determine how the law of compulsory obedience will be applied in these cases of false orders. Obedience to whom? To a non-existent control centre?

These are only some of the games to be found on the so called “Warrior Information Net”, completely based on digital technology. The question is: if, in order to study the effects of radioactivity, radioactive substances were injected into individuals who were not told they had been chosen as guinea pigs (and this is just one of the trials performed by the forces during the last 50 years in the name of “scientific research”), who are, or who will be the victims of these new digital experiments? and what political programmes will justify themselves on the basis of the dangers that their discoveries imply? Meanwhile the anti-cyberterrorism plan is already in the pipeline.

Translation: Bridget King.