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Monday, April 3, 2017

Cyber-Sabotage Hits Alaska

Intriguing, as it appears we are all cast members of a "Spy verses Spy" melodrama, with this so-called Russian Roulette "hacking" that is today front and center of attention. It is serious business, time consuming trying to understand what happened along with the pending ramifications to come when at the same time a very embarrassing issue for this nation - more than that, it is a new-age WAR. So k-grade test question. What was the date of record along with the documented magnitude of destruction the 1st Cyber-Sabotage that hit this nation? OK, against any nation good or bad? Many in the know think so, that such an attack didn't take place until late in 2007, when our very own cyber-spy network allowed the StuxNET "mole virus" to invade the nuclear processing facilities in Iran. Such a premeditated attack was designed to disable that rogue nation's quest and thirst for a nuclear "deterrent" weapon. After a year plus over-time in the "Top Secret" planning stage it was unleashed and commenced to crash that nation's desire to build the "Bomb" - at least delay such a deployment. Then came the Sony Pictures' "hack" a few years ago, in 2014 when an "In Country" hijacking occurred - wherein a "mole virus" cloned from the StuxNET eavesdropped on office workers and pilfered the celluloid archives for movie drama data! That's right, a virus that could infiltrate and turn on office computers along with enabling the activation of built-in microphones and video cameras, capturing office stuff and transmitting the "blackmail" goods to the spy network. That intrusion was a fallout of the "FLAME" virus cloned from StuxNET and the culprits, well still a mystery. The Iran attack was credited to our government along with Siemens of Germany bravado, with Sony what happens when a virus gets into the wrong hands. These attacks on the innocent are major "privacy" hits, and every day that goes bye we hear of invasions on that "right to be let alone" through the vulnerability of our "must have" gadgets that must be networked. It is happening at fast forward, and like a freight train wreck on the horizon, be prepared. Turn on that cell phone, you are under attack! Soon will come the day when you fart the world will know about it even before the stink dissipates and let's hope never for smell-evision technology! But it is important to get an understanding of the history of this new age cyber-WAR, especially now that the Russians are getting into the "hack" act. Who let the cat out of the bag? We started it! Now the 1st documented non-military attempt to "hack" sabotage the infrastructure in efforts to cause hardship with a windfall of pain and suffering, that mishap occurred way back in the 80s and was designed as an intent to cause a serious environmental disaster. The cyber-spy fantasy grew along with the computer age, as in-roads into hi-tech data bit streaming and visions of "link-up" changed the technology of "eavesdropping" like over-night, so came the vulnerability to be "hacked" growing with leaps and no bounds. It all started taking shape when the Ma-Bell 202 modem was available on the open market, and the cyber-spy age was officially opened for business. Before that, only the military could afford such a luxury of remote eavesdropping. In 1982 after more than 6-years in operation after many years of controversy during the construction phase of an historic massive project that which required Congressional approval, the Trans-Alaska-Pipeline came within seconds of complete failure, due a "hack". Had it not been for a pipeline worker in close proximity to where the "bomb" was about to go off, it could have meant an environmental disaster unprecedented any other disasters known to man so far. Unprecedented because the United States relied on the oil from Alaska as a deterrent, against massive un-controllable crowd motor gas rationing as was witnessed during the early 70s with the Arab oil embargo - the reason that pipeline was built and at the time of the saboteur's disruptive attempt supplying 20% of this nation's energy needs. Had this "hack" continued to success, it would still be an environmental nightmare after 30-years of fallout and who knows how it would have fared and feared with respect to our economic vulnerability. Gas rationing in the states during the embargo had caused many difficulties, people were getting killed and our nation was on the brink of Helter Skelter - it was not unusual to wait in line for gas upwards 4-hours, every other day when the odd & even license plate gig managed the maddening crowds. How this "hack" happened, almost: See, at the bottom of a mountain crossing known as the "Thompson's Pass" wherein the humongous pipeline heads down-hill towards the coast, a remote-gate-vale designed to segregate the pipeline was "hacked" to close from a remote location outside its intended oversight authority. These valves are controlled by a sophisticated computer in Valdez, at the OCC dispatch center with signals sent over micro-wave repeaters along the pipeline then radio linked for final control. When the pipeline is idled due a malfunction, the line is shutdown in an orderly fashion - else things can break apart real easy as the momentum from so much oil flowing at a fast pace must be controlled. It's like a pile-up on a freeway, all it takes is someone's timing a little off! So somehow, someone got a hold of the secret codes that control the 122 valves along the 800-mile pipeline route. Valve 121 at the bottom of the "Pass" is the valve that one would choose to cause unbelievable damage, as the hydraulic head coming down that mountain amounts to thousands of pounds of energy that must be released. In laymen's terms, if that valve were to have inadvertently shut "un-commanded" by the computer, the pipe would literally blow out of the ground and crude oil would soak the wilderness and shower the surrounding rivers unabated for hours, maybe days! It would be a source of pollution that would remain for eons and seep into the ocean after each spring's runoff and kill off everything that relies on the Prince William's Sound marine ecosystem, forever. So fortunate enough, with a pipeline worker so close to the scene the battery power that drives the valve shut was disabled. Close call, too close for comfort and for years following that episode many of the critical valve sites along the 800-mile dip-stick were manned, 24/7 because someone had hacked the system! It was a "hack", not a malfunction as was reported to the oversight authorities. Someone had found out the "secret" code for that valve along with the radio frequency for communications in efforts to engage this attack. All that was required was a Motorola radio, some simple coding and the saboteur had at his disposal a hand-held "bomb"! The company that runs the pipeline came pretty sure close to identifying the individual behind this attempt. It was all speculation, as it was very hard to prove but the employee was soon terminated for reasons suspect - poor performance? Case closed, no need to get the regulators involved just call the valve problem a "computer glitch" accident never to happen again. It required a 2-year effort and millions to solve the problem that it would never happen again, even if the system went hacked - safeguards put in place that could stop any "un-commanded" valve closing by literally placing a  "crowbar" on the bank of batteries at each valve - basically "short-circuiting" the power and killing the valve movement in its tracks. We had entered the "hack" zone! Yes, that is probably the 1st documented "hack" attack upon the United States' "critical" infrastructure. NO, not yet forward to the other attacks listed in the opening of this broadcast, in 2007 and 2014. In 1989, probably the biggest heist "hack" attack designed to cause havoc occurred, well praytell in close proximity to that first attack and this time around very successful. On March 24th, 1989 the wreck of the EXXON Valdez made history. It was a "hack" that perpetrated this disaster unprecedented. And why so successful? The same individual that was fired from the pipeline company due his possible attempt to sabotage the pipeline back in 1982 was at it again, and this time around had aligned himself with individuals bent on getting even with "Big Oil" operating in Alaska. For some individuals, there exists no bounds - when getting even is forefront the expedition, like on a suicide mission. The front to such a success, that which today has been kept silenced, take the stand as an environmentalist then wreck havoc with this getting even. Charles Hamel was an oil broker that was at odds with Alaska's "Big Oil" barons, especially down and out and out to get EXXON. Said again, Hamel was a failed oil broker that tried to get a piece of the lucrative action in Alaska and lost his livelihood along with investment loot confiscated from close associates with dreams of also striking it rich with the "Black Gold". Hamel's deal sold to friends was too good to be true, and he went broke so started to attack "Big Oil" on the environmental front, which was a grandioso facade. So, conveniently turn around that "negative" oil-broker image and set the sights as the Congressional "environmentalist gadfly" and behind the scenes - well we all know what damage that wreck caused some 28 long years back and today oil still causes problems to the marine ecosystem. The residual oil is stubborn, slowly disintegrating as the water temperatures just too damn cold to cause remedial action on the fast track. Without getting into specifics of how this wreck was the brainchild of a "hack", the navigational systems aboard the EXXON Valdez went tampered with through a re-calibration effort from a remote location with the intent to crash the vessel. Said again loud and clear a "hack" job - and so was the extended reach radar used by the Coast Guard compromised on that same night and most likely by the same "hacker", disabling a specially designed warning system to make damn sure a tanker stayed clear of Bligh Reef! If one wanted to make a statement, it was the EXXON Valdez crashing into Bligh Reef! When the EXXON Valdez left the pipeline terminus with a boat-load of crude oil, it was a night of calm seas, somewhat clear skies with the moon peaking out occasionally and no sea-lane traffic difficulties as reported from an ARCO tanker that had just traversed the "Sound" out towards Hinchinbrook Island and with that notice and once through the narrows, the EXXON Valdez tanker was placed on "Auto-pilot" with a predetermined course. A routine voyage, except little did Captain Joe Hazelwood realize that the navigational computer had been "hacked" to provide the wrong information and the tanker followed a course to destruction. The guys on the bridge had no idea, all looked like clear sailing as it was dark out and there exists only a handful of navigational light beacons that could have warned of such an eminent heading towards such a disastrous reef outcropping. The radar scope showed the ship in safe waters, because the "hack" fooled the truth! The EXXON Valdez headed into Bligh Reef at "full speed ahead" - it was not an accident caused by a drunk Captain! When a navigational system is compromised, it is the blind leading the blind and good luck! In fact, the 1st blood tests that were taken of the "We're fetched up hard aground" Captain by a Fish & Wildlife officer, that testing disappeared as it showed no traces of booze. All the evidence of a "hack" went un-noticed as the blame game took off in a direction that strayed from the truth! Take a disgruntled oil broker, a disgruntled pipeliner with credentials favoring a brilliance at radar and electronic technologies and the knowhow to understand the deep state of affairs, a disgruntled conservation officer that lost a good heap of a retirement investing in Hamel's follies - three strikes you're out a ripe recipe for a planned disaster. I was witness to how an individual could from shore dial into a ships navigational systems, and re-calibrate the coordinates but at the time had no idea that sabotage was on the horizon - as what I was shown was merely part of this guys work after losing that pipeline job. See, once the pipeline guy was let go due his participation "maybe" in that valve problem in Thompson's Pass, he then found work as a navigational expert that tested the on-board computers before the tankers embarked on a journey south, and this work was carried out from remote as once he was discharged from the pipeline company he could no longer get clearance to enter the loading facility - no need to visit the tanker as a simple modem with a radio link - same equipment that was used to "hack" that valve on the pipeline! This was way before people started getting excited about security from the standpoint of remote access, as we were all so still fascinated with that computer screen and "Pong", or was it PacMan? Regardless, espionage with the intent to harm came early to Alaska. So along the way, well today Cyber-Spying is a multi-billion dollar business. And then again, Alaska was hit a few more times by "hackers" reaching out to cause a disruption in tranquility. Remember, "I can see Russia from my house" said Sarah, and herein the possibly of the first time that Russia's KGB "hacked" into the US's critical infrastructure, at Ft. Wainwright. In 2014 a suspicious virus shutdown the power plant at this strategic defense shield facility, the base went dark and cold and that "hack" was traced to an eavesdropping "Blue Tooth" device mysteriously communicating with a maintenance technician's laptop. If Sergey Putin was successful in breaching the security of that military base, it is possible that Fairbanks became that window of opportunity to access all of our military and political secrets all the way to D.C. some 4000-miles away! And little known to many, the IRS office "hack" in Anchorage, at Bill Allen's "VECO" castle wherein the breach was used as a clearing house for the influential that had tax problems - pay some cash to Allen's bimbos and get preferential treatment one's tax problems gone for good! Yes, the IRS office was part of Bill's corporation and on weekends when the agents were enjoying some time off, the computers were infiltrated - end of story. That my friend is what was used to take down one on this nation's greatest of dedicated statesmen, Theodore Fulton Stevens, who was used as a fall guy stool pigeon because when push comes to shove some will throw their mother under a bus for cover. Ted was framed, guilty of what? Nothing and just like with Captain Joe, no sustenance with the finger pointing and used as a convenient means to "closure", when the truth in the matter...the Truth? "You Can't Handle the Truth", especially when it comes to what "hackers" have discovered and we may see the same damn outcome with the Russian "hack" attack, far from the "TRUTH"! Let the hacking begin...

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