I’m naturally a bit of a paranoid. Growing up when I was a teenager, I had to learn how to control it if I didn’t want to be that homeless guy on the street with the tinfoil hats. Mostly because, at that age, I figured those guys didn’t get laid a lot.
My paranoia was in large part driven by my doubt. I doubted everything, most of all myself. Of course, the side effect was that I would doubt everything – explanations, authority, religion, you name it. I was in serious danger of becoming some paranoid cynic. Overtime, I learned to trust that doubt, that nagging feeling which I came to recognize as my conscious. It got me out of many jams and prevented me from making some huge mistakes. Ultimately, I got my cynicism and paranoia under control.
Which leads me to the following great Vanity Fair piece: A Declaration of Cyber War. My latent paranoia is awakened when I read the following in a publication that is not the Enquirer.
Last summer, the world’s top software-security experts were panicked by the discovery of a drone-like computer virus, radically different from and far more sophisticated than any they’d seen. The race was on to figure out its payload, its purpose, and who was behind it. As the world now knows, the Stuxnet worm appears to have attacked Iran’s nuclear program.
Serious questions about Stuxnet’s genesis and effects remain. Not least is the question of what damage Stuxnet may actually have done to Natanz. Ahmadinejad, for what it’s worth, has claimed that Iran’s centrifuges fell victim to cyber-attack. The physicist David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), has studied the possible impact on Natanz and found evidence of only a temporary slowdown. He says, “It appears on the surface that if they were attacked they have recovered and are moving on.” Yet based on a tip from Ralph Langner, combined with analysis by Symantec, ISIS asserted that the code of Stuxnet’s second warhead is hunting for an installation identical to a specific kind of centrifuge cascade at Natanz. Albright co-authored a report that called this “perhaps the strongest evidence” that Stuxnet is aimed at the facility. The same study posits that the worm did some “relatively limited damage” to Natanz. As a result, Albright is concerned that Iran “will feel they’ve been attacked and they can do something in return if they want to.”
Read it all.
On the flip side, I’m also led to wonder if Vanity Fair is now employing homeless guys wearing tinfoil hats. I’ve always thought it would be easy for Vanity Fair reporters to get laid.
*For clarification’s sake, I was roughly the same age as Bart when I went through the paranoid stage.