Richard Silverstein


Richard Silverstein, writer of the Tikun Olam blog, discusses his article “Flame: Israel’s New Contribution to Middle East Cyberwar;” the IDF’s “Unit 8200” cyberwarfare department; the differences between industrial-sabotage virus Stuxnet and the sophisticated espionage worm Flame; how state-created computer viruses can get out of control and wreak havoc on their creators; President Obama’s antisocial foreign policy of anonymous drone strikes and cyber attacks; and the US’s rejection of Russia’s proposed international ban on cyberwar (Max Boot hates the idea, so maybe the Russians were on to something).

MP3 here. (21:46)

Richard Silverstein has been writing Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, since February, 2003. It focuses on Israeli-Palestinian peace but includes commentary on U.S. politics, a world music mp3 blog, and other writing on Jewish life, literature, and culture.

24 thoughts on “Richard Silverstein”

  1. I' m just as worried about what the US and Israel are doing with these viruses as I am about 'the bad guys'. There are powerful groups and people within our own military-govt.-corporations who are extremely vindictive and greedy for power. And most of our politicians can be or are bought off.

  2. Remember the the original cyber warfare weapon PROMISE?

    Sheik Klahid bin Mahfouz who is the main finacier of Islamic terrorism according to the 9/11 lawsuit was used to sell it to Mid East countries on behalf of the US government.

    "In the last weeks of the life of investigative journalist Danny Casolaro, prior to his murder, he was convinced the BCCI, Iran Contra Arms, PROMIS Software Scandals were all connected. It appears from this enclosed Letter that Casolaro was CORRECT!

    This Letter reveals the US Department of Justice secretly authorised the theft and modification of the PROMIS Software utilizing a special eavesdropping receiver to be sold to foreign governments by the BCCI and Iran Contra conspirators."

    1. William F Weld

      United States Attorney

      1100 McCormack Post Office and Courthouse

      Boston, Massachusetts 02109

      Dear Mr Weld,

      As agreed, Messrs, Manucher Ghorbanifar, Adnan Khashoggi and Richard Armitage will broker the transaction of the PROMISE Software to Sheik Klahid bin Mahfouz for resale and general gifts in his region contingent upon the three conditions we last spoke of. PROMISE must have a soft arrival. No Paperwork, customs, or delay. It must be equipped with special data retrieval unit. As before, you must walk the financial aspects through Credit Suisse and National Commercial Bank. If you encounter any problems contact me directly.


      WM, Bradford Reynolds

      Assistant Attorney General

      Civil Rights Division

      1. Where did this letter surface for the first time? It's so transparently "tradecraft". A date would also help. Are you sure it can be verified?

        Always interesting that when you look back at things from the present perspective, the picture comes together as to what could have been going on, even if to someone fairly naive it might have seemed benign or benevolent. What's this with the "civil rights division"? Does it also handle drug distributions to the ghettoes of America? Crack sales for the Contras?

          1. But reading the alleged capabilities and the use of the trojaned PROMIS thirty years afterwards just shows it to be a silly mc guffin. While shady stuff of the worst sort has been going on rather much as described (BCCI? I remember that one), PROMIS seems to be a mythical über-total-information-awareness program developed by loner super genius. Running on a machine that back then had less oomph than an iPhone does today? Nope. The NSA would have been replaced by Eric Holder's secretary.

  3. Government’s monopoly on the use of force and violence — This will force people to not use force?

    The forceful and deceitful, they are forcing software programs into computers which then force people to endure misery. So, the only solution is for someone with equal or greater intelligence to create a software bug that can kill the bug.

    Problem is, it takes one more intelligent then a crook to catch a crook. And surely, the people most forceful and deceitful, they work for gold not government.

    Therefore, cyber-warfare must be allowed to reach its ultimate conclusion, so that we know by experience that such force can only cause misery and confusion.

  4. But nothing in the shopping car that is more then 15% fat.

    Teaching computers to not eat into their hardware the bugs that cannibalize their software, this is like teaching people to give up the average American diet of 50% fat. It being the root cause of most all illness, for to achieve such a high concentration of fat, over 90% of the complex carbohydrates must be refined out, namely 90% of the bulk, fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that keep our bodies alive and well.

    But fat makes the food taste rich, so people would rather enjoy such emotional pleasure in the here and now, rather then the happiness of good health in the tomorrows that will someday be now.

  5. Socialized medicine — Greatest harm to the human body
    and moral fabric of society that the world has ever known

    The most healthy nation on earth, a nation with no hospitals is Hunzaland. It’s high mountain people enjoying more of the two most essential elements to good health then any other nation. Namely, vigorous exercise and a 10% fat diet void of refined foods.

    Whereas, if starvation is removed as a cause of poor health, the most miserable health of any nation on earth, the nation with the greatest number of hospitals, is USA. It’s non-walking people suffering the two most debilitating elements of rotten health, no exercise and a 50% fat diet void of all the complex carbohydrates that keep our bodies alive.

    For we are an Empire, and as an Empire would fall the moment people stop being apprehensive, insecure, anxiety driven and in fearful submission to authority, in many ways government orchestrates society to accomplish such slavery.

    1. So, government with its Food and Drug Administration controlled by the meat and dairy industry, with the high fat diet it feeds to students and those employed by government — together with the processed food industry and medical industry — they keep us half sick and cause us to suffer the loss of half our life. And a most miserable and anxiety driven life it is.

      Comes now socialized medicine to force healthy people to buy insurance they don’t need, to give food addicted people free healthcare enabling them to be all the more addicted — and to give all those employed to accomplish such corruption to feel not the slightest guilt.

  6. Can someone honestly tell me that these key infrastructure systems are just plugged into the internet? Why wouldnt they isolate theses networks from any physical connection to the internet and any media that is used to interface with the said key infrastructure be thorough hash tagged and encrypted. Its seems like BS to me, or complete IT incompetence. My friend runs a hospitals IT systems and they dont connect peoples life support systems to two way communications like the internet, so if they can keep critical hospital systems isolated how easy is it for Iran to keep its centrifuges isolated. i find this really hard to believe that planes could be brought down.

    1. You asked the right question mikfax, how can anyone remotely access something not connected to the Internet? The only way I see it possible is having special chips built into the equipment that have "back-doors" to that equipment, so that it can be traced, taken out of operation, or destroyed remotely via satellite. That would answer your question about the vulnerability of aircraft as well. But who put the chips in? We did. We want to be in control. Why anyone would buy sophisticated weapons from the US, I just don´t understand, because they must all be all be under US remote control.

      Cyber warfare against Yemen? Who would have the advantage here, the US that has everything plugged into Internet or poor Yemen? I´d put my money on Yemen and other poor countries, because they still have intelligent people who can get into the technology very quickly. For god´s sake, the US used to run around the world hunting down children who were hacking into our best organizations and infrastructures, remember? We are pissing so many people off in the world now that a cyber war could be devastating for the US. How could we possibly deal with hundreds of simultaneous attacks from all over the globe? Yes, we could turn the Internet off, but who will suffer the most through the loss of Internet? Yemen? The joke is on us, the US.

    2. There is a mix of answers here..

      1) Infrastructure systems are connected to the Internet because it's convenient to do so and unsecured because that's hard to do. Buggy SCADA endpoints, unprotected on the Internet? It's possible.

      2) Stuxnet was transmitted mainly through USB sticks

      3) In front of your "key infrastructure system" there is a little thing controlling them and this is more often than not, a machine running Windows, again because of convenience (the manufacturer ships Windows-only software and everyone can install it, right?) Windows is an overly complex, overly general, buggy system with lots of security holes that need regular patching. Now someone needs to transfer a file to that machine. He plugs in the USB stick he just carried over from the Internet café…

      In the case of Iran, the centrifuges were indeed controlled by Windows machines. So there.

      As for bringing down planes, well, no. Plane software is not coming out of the offices of the Beast Of Redmond. There are very hard and very expensive requirements regarding software quality and process security for those kind of software. Verification and validation by independent teams are part and parcel of these softs. Now, someone on the inside with lots of luck could still manage to plant an invisible or well-hidden backdoor, you can never really be 100% sure.

      You can do some really fun stuff sometimes

  7. A factory defect?

    Iran purchased the nuclear centrifuges with a built-in computer control system, and it is suspected that the Stuxnet virus was already in the equipment before it even hit the shores of Iran.

  8. The problem isn't so much with our so-called enemies subverting the software, it is with anyone who wants to manipulate the system for whatever reason doing so. We have become a very dependent society on all these things, and although someone might talk about the virtues of protecting us from abuse of software, it is also the case that the fox has been in the henhouse nurturing the chickens and carefully sorting the eggs for his own uses since the beginning of the internet when DARPA was funding the research and using all manner of characters to do its many "defense projects". We are as a society already at the mercy of these characters, and 9/11 proves it.

    Al Jazeera
    ”Air raid leaves one Palestinian dead, after Hamas fighters fired 45 rockets”

    After Israel makes body parts out of 6 in Gaza, Hamas Army fired 45 rockets in self-defense

  10. Walter Cole
    “not connected to the Internet? The only way I see it possible is…”

    During the Vietnam War, I worked on radio relay and carrier equipment, then for an additional three years worked for AT&T installing and troubleshooting the microwave equipment that now handles all of our long distance calls.

    So, why venture an opinion on electronic hardware and software that only degreed engineers have an ability to comprehend? Our nationwide electric grid for example, in order to at the speed of light turn on and off a multitude of feeder lines that carry megawatts of electric power, in order to have the communications needed to control every switching station in the continental USA, the Internet is essential. That and also all of the microwave carrier equipment owned by AT&T, Verizon and other multinational corporations, which is also connected to the Internet.

  11. Microsoft Basic©, VBA — Designed to be worthless

    Microsoft Word© is a word processor that has built-in software that is suppose to allow you to do programming that will automate any type of repetitious task. The goal being to give small business the tools needed to compete with big business, what with small business being nearly computer illiterate. But, Microsoft is big business, the absolute worst enemy of small business and though Basic© programming is taught at most vocational schools, virtually no one uses it as it is designed so complex as to be not usable..

    So, as I needed to have an automated program to publish the World’s first and only “Complete Dictionary of the Ancient Greek Language,” a compilation of 70,000 ancient words and their multitude of definitions, I created a software program called AutoSoft. It took me three years to produce the automated program, and it worked perfect as it gave secretaries in small business a comprehensive way to automate most any repetitious task. Problem was, after I started to advertise AutoSoft on the WEB the next version of Microsoft Word© that came out was so altered that it destroyed the ability of AutoSoft to function.

  12. what the heck, afterall its 6/23 = 11
    its all about chips chiprenches and chipmonkies
    talkin bout chips, could USrael tweak the turkish jet off course and make an incident out of it??
    Sure they can, who upgraded their fantoms of opera, the show must go on?! remote control was part of up(their’s)grade. lets see if the turks handle this. do turkies like thanksgiving?
    be good johny, now sit down and do your homework. re-member WU WEI!

  13. Computer illiteracy — Tool of slavery

    Virtually no one in the uneducated lower half of society uses a computer, for the hardware and software manufacturers designed it to be that way. Primary reason being for the rich ruling class to keep the people divided by class, isolated and enslaved. For mutual gratification being the fake morality that prevails, we see people of equal wealth giving equal gifts and expecting equal in return.

  14. news. Scott you can't stop. I will throw a good monthly donation your way. I don't have tons of money, but you are worth more than a few dollars a month to m

  15. I' m just as worried about what the US and Israel are doing with these viruses as I am about 'the bad guys'. There are powerful groups and people within our own military-govt.-corporations who are extremely vindictive and greedy for power. And most of our politicians can be or are bought off.

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