Here's an interesting US systempunkt -- a systempunkt is the point in a big network where even a small attack would cause the entire network to fail. This systempunkt would enable a prepared individual the unique ability to shut down a large part of the US without shedding a drop of blood. For example, this attack has the ability to:
- Put any company into a complete panic in less than an hour.
- Generates hundreds of false arrests and armed police searches -- all done with a high risk of fatal injury.
- It even has the ability (with some careful planning) to shut down all US schools (k-12 and colleges), hundreds of airline flights, and many government offices for a couple of days.
How is an attack like this possible? It's possible due to a flaw in the US communications system (due to corporate corruption), new tech (not really new, but cheaper and more ubiquitous), and an overly sensitized population. These combine to make it possible for anyone to send threats and other misleading messages to thousands of specific people and organizations in a very short period of time, and in a way that minimizes capture. Here's more detail:
- Robocalls with voice threats/misinformation. The attacker uses phone based marketing software to auto-dial hundreds of target numbers to deliver threatening and misleading audio messages (bomb threat, impending attack, shots fired, armed intruder seen). NOTE: This software is highly configurable so specific voice messages (human voice) can be delivered to specific numbers. Also, since it costs almost nothing to make these calls (rates and software cost) and this software can deliver messages (hundreds per phone per hour), it's possible to tackle targets of nearly any scale.
- Economic Corruption (amoral companies). Fortunately for the attacker, there's no system in place to stop this from happening. The phone system is completely open to short term manipulation. NOTE: We see this every day. Most US households (particularly elderly households) get slammed with a half dozen robocalls (many of them are dangerous scams from abroad that attempt to defraud them of every penny they have) every single day. Despite the damage this does, the US phone monopolies won't do anything about it. Worse, the system is so badly managed, it's even possible for robocalling software to manipulate the "caller ID." This makes it possible for attackers to spoof targets with fake "Police Department" to "local" caller IDs.
- Extreme reactions. Based on a phone threat alone, nearly all US schools and all government offices will evacuate and send home their personnel. Further, the ability to configure threats to specific locations and attach fake caller IDs provides the ability amplify and extend the duration of these evacuations and armed responses.
What does this mean?
Warfare is in transition. New tech and new threats are emerging every day. In many cases, simply doing the right thing (in this case, protecting US households from phone scams/spam), can blunt the effectiveness of the attack. In others, it takes an understanding of where modern warfare is going (not where it has been) in order to anticipate these threats and tweak the system in ways that blunts their potential for damage.
Unfortunately, I don't see this happening. The governmental and economic system we have isn't that good at doing the right thing. Worse, the security system we pay so much for, is only good at stopping the repetition of the types of attack that have already happened, not the attack that will happen. Why? Our national security system is simply unwilling to study warfare seriously.
PS: Robocalling software is very easy to acquire and run now. There are even smartphone apps that can do this on stolen phones.