BASIC SYSTEMS DISRUPTION Here's a simple overview of what is increasingly becoming the dominant method of offensive warfare in the 21st Century. Early applications of this methodology to modern conflict have been very successful. In short, it's better to understand its dynamics than to assume it doesn't exist. There are two basic types of systems disruption: Social. Disruption of social networks. Division of the network into noncooperative or openly antagonistic centers of gravity. Physical. The disruption of physical networks, particularly infrastructure. System disruption leverages network structure and dynamics to turn small attacks into large events. Selection of the best point to attack is based on an analysis of the network's design and flows. The term to describe this point is: the systempunkt. Essentially, the systempunkt is the point in the network, that if attacked, will yield the maximal possible impact. Systems disrupters typically prioritize attacks based on the potential of the following: Cascades of failure. Cross network/system cascades. Self-reinforcing failures. Those failures that generate feedback loops that keep the system from returning to the status quo ante (the former equilibrium point). Systempunkts typically fall into the following categories: Highly connected nodes (particularly useful in scale free network designs). Sources of systemic flow. Cross sub-network or cluster connections. Repetitive systems disruption yields better results than singular large events since it impacts decision making processes of those impacted (disruption tax). Systems disruption is superior to traditional methods of attack due to the following: It is effective at delegitimizing governments. Service availability is a key political good. It produces minimal public backlash and is likely to generate co-operative entities. It is easy to recruit for (few skills and very little, if any combat required), usually results in low casualties and few arrests, and requires nearly zero (financing, equipment, and personnel) to accomplish. Open source warfare, a set of autonomous groups engaged in coopetition to achieve an amorphous promise/goal, works extremely well with systems disruption due to the following: Rapid discovery of systempunkts across a variety of target systems/networks via tinkering networks and stigmergic processes of cross network communication. Increased chance of repetitive attacks due to a multiplicity of groups. Self-reinforcing dynamics. Systems disruption gives rise to groups that can profit or exploit the dynamic. These groups in turn disrupt systems to perpetuate their survival and thereby give rise to yet more groups. Market dynamics and systems disruption can become mutually reinforcing processes. The precise dynamics of this connection are still amorphous and ill defined. However, practice shows that this cross connection can be leveraged to achieve coercive results. Most target networks are designed to maximize efficiency. This design constraint yields configurations that are particularly vulnerable to systemic disruption. Further, globalization (due to network integration, tight coupling, and network complexity) have made systems disruption applicable to nearly every corner of the globe. Urban environments are particularly vulnerable to systems disruption due to the extreme concentration and cross connections of the networks required to sustain high population densities. As a result, urban takedowns are possible if not probable. The high levels of amplification and potential reach of system disruption allows participants in a local conflict to attack regional and global foes with minimal effort. Systems disruption can generate results (damage) that if measured in a return on investment (the damage caused divided by the cost of the attack) that exceed one million percent. The long term trend toward individual superempowerment -- the leverage gained by individuals due to network access and new tools -- is made dangerous due to an ability to accomplish systems disruption. INFRASTRUCTURE MELTDOWNS In today's complex world, infrastructure failures aren't limited to a single network. They spread across networks due to a complex interplay of interdependencies. What's worse is that these interdependencies are often both tightly coupled (connections that rapidly spread a failure to other systems) and non-linear (feedback loops magnify the impact of failures). Global Guerrillas will use these interconnections and interdependencies to takedown complete infrastructures through seemingly small attacks. Network Interdependencies Network interdependencies fall into five categories: Input -- material delivered by one network is used by another. Mutual -- networks that serve as inputs for each other. Example: oil and power generation. Co-location -- different networks that are located in the same geography. Shared -- networks that share physical components, transport, or facilities. Exclusive -- a network that can only support one or few outputs, may be transient. Example: Oil/Gasoline pipelines. Types of Failure Global guerrillas will plan attacks to create the following types of failure. See inset diagram to understand how a failure in electricity production can impact other networks. Cascade Failure: cascades of failure (see Cascading System Failure for more background) can spread quickly from one network to another through "input" and "mutual" interdependencies. Escalating Failure: the failure in one networked infrastructure can exacerbate a failure in another network. This failure is typically due to "shared" or "exclusivity" interdependencies. For example: an attack against transportation network would slow repair of an electricity failure. Common Cause Failure: this failure is due to a single attack that directly impacts two or more networks. This failure is typically due to geographical "co-location." Infrastructure Meltdowns Given these attributes, how will global guerrillas attack infrastructures? They will likely follow this basic formula (I will go into this in much more detail in my book on Global Guerrillas, out this fall): Map infrastructure interdependencies according to the five types. Identify potential cascades, common cause failures, and escalating failures. Physically attack or isolate the communications of response/control center personnel and/or corporate senior management to delay recovery. An example of a previous al Qaeda op from Navy Commander James Pelkofski: In the attack on the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, a truck carrying explosives approached the main embassy gate, possibly posing as a delivery vehicle. It was redirected by guards to a back gate. There, a gun and grenade attack on security personnel by as many as three assailants preceded the explosion that destroyed the embassy. The preliminary gun and grenade assault ensured the primary weapon, the truck bomb, was delivered into the compound with devastating effect. Use combined arms to attack critical points. A combination of explosives (or equivalents), high energy radio frequency weapons (HERFs or "herfing" -- see "Homemade Microwave Weapons" for more), and computer hacking of control systems (SCADA). Conduct sequential attacks across multiple infrastructures to amplify and extend the impact. Depart the area. CASCADING SYSTEM FAILURE Global infrastructure networks are the Achilles heal of the great powers. They form the basis of our wealth and our daily function yet remain extremely vulnerable. It's then little wonder that next generation terrorists, in the form of global guerrillas, will focus their efforts on the destruction of this global infrastructure. In previous posts we explored the vulnerability of scale free networks. This analysis showed that the removal of a few highly connected nodes can cause a network to fail (by dividing the network into isolated islands of connectivity). However, the analysis of dynamic networks indicates that there may be an even easier way to collapse infrastructure networks: cascading failure. Dynamic Networks and Cascading Failures Static maps of a network's connectivity (like a scale free network topology) don't provide a true picture of an infrastructure network's operation. Infrastructures are dynamic. There are flows of information, power, and substances constantly coursing through them. This dynamism creates a new set of vulnerabilities that can be exploited by global guerrillas. Here's how cascading network failures occur in dynamic networks when they lose high- load nodes (the loss of even a single high-load node can result in system-wide cascading failure): Load redistribution. In most infrastructure networks, the loads carried by each node on the network are dynamically redistributed. If a network node is lost, due to accident or attack, the load that node carries is rapidly distributed to the other nodes on the network. Hi-load nodes and failure. If a high-load node is removed from the network, the loads it carries are redistributed to other nodes on the network. This increased flow causes less capable nodes to exceed their capacity. To protect these nodes from damage, many networks will automatically force the overloaded node to fail-over (shut down). In other networks, the increased congestion will cause the overloaded node to become inefficient (bog down). Regardless, the result is a series of shut-downs or slow-downs that "cascade" through the network as the excess load is pushed to the next available node. The end result is total network failure. Heterogeneous networks. Cascading failures only occur in heterogeneous networks where there are a few nodes that have the capacity for high-loads and many with the capacity only for low-loads. Homogeneous networks, where all the nodes handle an equal load do not suffer cascading failure. Unfortunately, all infrastructure networks are heterogeneous by design. NOTE: Cascading failures do not cleanly apply to terrorist "social" networks. In social networks, the network nodes are people and the flow is information/knowledge/etc. When a high-load node is removed, the remaining nodes will not fail due to an increase in load. People can adapt dynamically. For example: they can prioritize the new loads they inherit which mitigates the impact of a high-load node loss to the network. Global Guerrilla Attack Planning The vulnerability of dynamic networks to attacks on hi-load nodes is straight forward. However, planning attacks on these dynamic networks isn't. Here's how global guerrillas will plan attacks to create cascading failures within dynamic networks: High-load node identification. There is a high level of correlation between the number of connections a node has and the amount of load it carries. Additionally, many infrastructure networks (oil, gas, electricity, etc.)concentrate production of the flow that travels through the network. In these networks, high-load nodes can be identified as those nodes that are immediately downstream from production facilities. In other networks high-load nodes are the most central (communication networks). Connections instead of nodes. A non obvious approach to node failure is to attack the connections radiating from high-load nodes. The result of an attack on the connections between nodes will be the redistribution of the load carried by the damaged connection to the remaining connections. This will result in the failure of a high-load node when the remaining connections fail due to overloading (see diagram). Network suppliers. Some networks are vulnerable to undersupply (gas, electricity, and water). In these networks, an attack on a supply facility or connections from a supply facility will produce network failure as undersupplied nodes pull resources from the rest of the network (see diagram). Source: Motter, Lai "Cascade-based attacks on Complex Networks" (PDF) SCALE-FREE NETWORKS Scale-free networks are everywhere. The can be seen in airline traffic routes, connections between actors in Hollywood, weblog links, sexual relationships, and terrorist networks. So what exactly is a scale-free network? A scale-free network is one that obeys a power law distribution in the number of connections between nodes on the network. Some few nodes exhibit extremely high connectivity (essentially scale-free) while the vast majority are relatively poorly connected. The reason that scale-free networks emerge, as opposed to evenly distributed random networks, is due to these factors: Rapid growth confers preference to early entrants. The longer a node has been in place the greater the number of links to it. First mover advantage is very important. In an environment of too much information people link to nodes that are easier to find. This preferential linking reinforces itself by making the easier to find nodes even more easy to find. The greater the capacity of the hub (bandwidth, work ethic, etc.) the faster its growth. The Strength and Weaknesses of Scale-Free Networks The proliferation of scale-free networks and our increasing dependence on them (particularly given their prevalence in energy, transportation, and communications systems) begs the question: how reliable are these networks? Here's some insight into this: Scale-free networks are extremely tolerant of random failures. In a random network, a small number of random failures can collapse the network. A scalefree network can absorb random failures up to 80% of its nodes before it collapses. The reason for this is the inhomogeneity of the nodes on the network -failures are much more likely to occur on relatively small nodes. Scale-free networks are extremely vulnerable to intentional attacks on their hubs. Attacks that simultaneously eliminate as few as 5-15% of a scale-free network's hubs can collapse the network. Simultaneity of an attack on hubs is important. Scale-free networks can heal themselves rapidly if an insufficient number of hubs necessary for a systemic collapse are removed. Scale-free networks are extremely vulnerable to epidemics. In random networks, epidemics need to surpass a critical threshold (a number of nodes infected) before it propogates system-wide. Below the threshold, the epidemic dies out. Above the threshold, the epidemic spreads exponentially. Recent evidence indicates that the threshold for epidemics on scale-free networks is zero. What this means for Counter-terrorists Given the vulnerability of scale-free networks to intentional disruption, what does this mean for counter-terrorist planners (which I hope, but doubt, they are thinking about)? This theory has strong implications for defense as well as offense given that terrorist networks are likely highly heterogeneous. Here's what it means: Eliminating terrorist network hubs will likely not be effective. Non-state terrorist networks exhibit small world properties (see "TERRORIST CELLS" for more). This means that while large hubs still dominate the network, the presence of tight clusters (cells), continues to provide local connectivity when the hubs are removed. This implies that the attack on al Qaeda's Afghanistan training camps (the location of multiple hubs) did not collapse its network in any meaningful way. Rather, it atomized the network into anonymous clusters of connectivity until the hubs could reassert their priority again. Additionally, many of these clusters, even without the global connectivity provided by the hubs, will still be able to conduct attacks if they are of sufficient size and complexity (a variety of skill sets). A better approach may be to observe the hubs covertly to assertain the location of local clusters that need to be shut down. Critical terrorist social network hubs cannot be identified based on the number of links alone. Hubs vary in value depending on multiple vectors such as depth of connections (strong face-to-face social history is extremely important for trust development in covert networks -- see MAPPING TERRORIST NETWORKS for more), frequency of contact (which may indicate the individual is a conduit for information flow rather than an resource), and duration of links (which is tied to the importance of that individuals skill set to ongoing operations of cells they connect to). Analysis of the network along each of vectors can make for better decision making. Defense against attacks on hubs can be achieved in ways other than physical defense. These methods include: increasing the capacity of all hubs to absorb the taffic of failed hubs (a kind of surge protection), limiting or decreasing the maximum number of connections to any one hub (reduction in criticality), and increasing the cross connectivity of the network (local pooling of resources). THE NEW BLITZKRIEG In all cases of radical improvements in warfare, the actual improvement is made much more through new thinking on how to fight than from innovations in weaponry. These innovations in theory typically don't occur via a linear process of evolution but rather through rapid breakthroughs. A breakthrough of this type was made by the German General Heinz Guderian. In the early 1930’s he read the innovative theories of armored warfare written by Liddell Hart and JFC Fuller as was convinced they represented a radical change in how war can be fought -- as opposed to the stalemate of defense typified by WWI. In secret he practiced the methods he learned with cardboard tanks. Years later, he rode real tanks in a Blitzkrieg across France in 1940 with devastating effect. Our current situation is characterized by a similar stalemate of defense. America and Israel are fighting a bloody war of attrition with terrorists with neither side able to achieve a decisive result. To trace the development of this new form of warfare, it is necessary to examine the how armored warfare achieved its success. There are strong similarities between it and what is coming. The success of Blitzkrieg rests on a brilliant insight: modern militaries are heavily reliant on extremely large and ponderous logistics and communication systems. The relationship between fighting men and the people that support them is called the tooth-to-tale ratio. That ratio has been growing at a furious rate over the last century -- it is currently at high of 10 support people for every ―trigger-puller.‖ The objective in maneuver-based armored combat (Blitzkrieg) is to separate the forward deployed fighting forces from their logistics and command system by driving to the rear of the enemy. Given the ongoing and immediate needs of the mass of forward deployed soldiers for copious supplies and strict command/control, the interruption caused by armored forces operating in rear areas rapidly results in a collapse along forward deployed line, pell-mell retreat, and capture. In this new substrate (nation-states vs. non-state networks within a global, information economy), global guerrillas will use a similar insight to win decisive battles. In this context, the conventional armies of nation-states aren't the target, a nation-state's economic and societal infrastructure is. Specifically, our large urbanized population centers are reliant on a complex set of relatively automated infrastructures. The operational objective of the global guerrilla warfare will be to separate a large urban population from its infrastructure and take advantage of the collapse and chaos that results. Global guerrilla operations will rapidly maneuver to or swarm on an urban center's infrastructure, attack it as quickly as possible at critical junctures to cause systemic collapse, continue the attacks as long as practicable, and disappear until the next operation. MAPPING TERRORIST NETWORKS A good way to understand how terrorist networks work is to map them. A well constructed map provides insight into how the network operates. In his paper, "Uncloaking Terrorist Networks" Valdis Krebs uses social network analysis to map the terrorist network that attacked on 9/11. Despite incomplete knowledge of all the connections between members, his analysis is still cogent and probably fairly close to reality. Here's what he found out about the networks structure: A sparse operational network. The 19 members of the operational cells (the actual 9/11 hijackers) were relatively isolated. The mean path length -- the average number of hops between any one member of the network to any other -- was a high 4.75. The greatest number of network connections between members was 5. Additionally, key members pulsed connections to other key members in the network through brief coordination meetings. These brief meetings reduced the distance between operational members by 40% (from a mean path length of 4.75 to 2.79). A larger administrative network to support the operational teams. The administration network provided a means to "keep alive" many of the weak connections between sparsely connected members of the operational network. They also provided much of the ongoing care needed to prepare an otherwise isolated operational team member for the attack. A leadership structure despite a lack of formal hierarchy. When the network is looked at in its entirety (operational plus administrative), Mohammed Atta emerged as the leader. Atta had 22 connections to other people in the network, much more than any other (the nearest other outlier was 18). Mohammed Atta's position on the network gave him control of its operation. Atta scored high in all measures of network connectivity: degrees (activity on the network), closeness (his ability to access others on the network -fewer number of hops), and betweeness (control over the network -- a central position that allowed him to broker the flow of information across the network). The costs and benefits of this network configuration Al Qaeda didn't design this network. It grew organically based on a combination of the operational requirements and the initiative of its members. Despite this organic nature, the design worked extremely well. Here are the dynamics: The interplay of distance in the operational network and the closeness of the administrative network enhanced the network's operation. The intentional lengthening of the mean path in the operational network improved the security of the network (no one member knew a majority of the others). The administrative network mitigated the detrimental aspects of this configuration (less learning, poorer planning, etc.) by helping to lower the mean path between members. It also provided supplemental clusters of skills and capabilities to provide localized enhancement of the operational network. NOTE: Notice that three of the four the operational cells were at the minimum size for small groups while the entire group -- operational plus administrative -- is at the optimal size for a medium sized group (see "What is the optimal size of a terrorist network?") The only small cell that failed (crashed in PA) was below the lower limit of five members. Trust between members of the network was based on deep relationships. Many of the relationships between members of the 9/11 terrorist network were developed years before in the al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. This prior knowledge/experience allowed the communication between network members to operate at a high degree of sophistication. It also lowered the transaction costs of forming and operating the network (which may be one of the keys to why these networks can be so lean -- more on this later, its a complicated issue that will take some explaining). The downside to this trust requirement is that people with unique skills may not be included. There was too much overlap between unique skill sets and leadership positions in the network. Examination of the network indicates that the trained pilots (a unique skill) were also the network leaders (identified by the number of connections). This overlap of skills/responsibilities made the network vulnerable. The reason for this is probably a combination of personal bias of Mohammed Atta when building this network and the requirement for an extreme level of commitment necessary to conduct a kamikaze operation. Hard Lessons The 9/11 terrorist network will likely serve as a model for future activities. Here's what can be applied to future counter-terrorist efforts: Expect these operational networks to be run by relative unknowns.Osama bin Laden, nor many of his top aides, were not a direct part of the network map. Osama's absence indicates that he has a "hands-off" management style. He does not micromanage. The network structure indicates that projects sponsored by al Qaeda are operated like independent businesses that acquire their own resources, do their own planning, and execute their plans without reference to senior authority. This is further support for the idea that bin Laden is operating a venture capital incubator model of terrorism. This also implies that Osama's removal will likely not have any measurable impact since al Qaeda's operations are run by entrepreneurs over the period of years. Assassination of a single network leader will not work. Despite the concentration of leadership and unique skills in Mohammed Atta, his assassination would not have prevented the operation. A second emergent leader with a high degree of connectivity was present: Marwan al-Shehhi. If Atta was removed, his loss would have eliminated one cell from the operational team (he was a pilot) while leaving most of the network intact. In order to disrupt the network fully, multiple high flow targets must be taken out simultaneously in order to prevent the emergence of alternative leadership. NOTE: There also is a high degree of dynamism in the network structure not captured by this analysis. This will be a topic of future analysis. Strategic attacks are possible with a network of less than 70 people. The small size, and low cost, of the 9/11 terrorist network should give pause to all counter-terrorist planners. Given that an estimated 100,000 people trained in Afghanistan, the potential for replays of 9/11 style strategic attacks is very high. The key members of the 9/11 network relied on trust built on face-to-face meetings in the Afghanistan camps. This implies that the key to unraveling the entire network is to gain access to Osama's list of people who trained in the camps (al Qaeda literally means "the database"). THE OPTIMAL SIZE OF A TERRORIST NETWORK Distributed, dynamic terrorist networks cannot scale like hierarchical networks. The same network design that makes them resiliant against attack puts absolute limits on their size. If so, what are those limits? A good starting point is to look at limits to group size within peaceful online communities on which we have extensive data -- terrorist networks are essentially geographically dispersed online communities. Chris Allen does a good job analyzing optimal group size with his critique of the Dunbar number. His analysis (replete with examples) shows that there is a gradual fall-off in effectiveness at 80 members, with an absolute fall-off at 150 members. The initial fall-off occurs, according to Chris, due to an increasing amount of effort spent on "grooming" the group to maintain cohesion. The absolute fall-off at 150 members occurs when grooming fails to stem dissatisfaction and dissension, which causes the group to cleave apart into smaller subgroups (that may remain affiliated). Al Qaeda may have been able to grow much larger than this when it ran physical training camps in Afghanistan. Physical proximity allowed al Qaeda to operate as a hierarchy along military lines, complete with middle management (or at least a mix of a hierarchy in Afghanistan and a distributed network outside of Afghanistan). Once those camps were broken apart, the factors listed above were likely to have caused the fragmentation we see today (lots of references to this in the news). This leads us to optimal group size, which according to Chris Allen's online group analysis, can be seen at two levels: both small and medium sized. Small, viable (in that they can be effective at tasks) groups (or cells) are optimized at 7-8 members. A lower boundary can be seen at 5 (with groups less than 5 not having sufficient resources to be effective) and an upper boundary at 9. Medium sized groups are optimal at 45-50 members, with a lower limit of 25 and an upper limit of 80. Between these levels is a chasm that must be surmounted with significant peril to the group. This is due to the need for groups above 9-10 members to have some level of specialization by function. This specialization requires too much management oversight to be effective given the limited number of participants in each function. At 25 members, the group gains positive returns on specialization given the management effort applied (a break-even point). This chasm (between 9-25 members) nicely matches the problem period in the development of terrorist and guerrilla networks that studies of guerrilla groups refer to. The amount of damage a small (7-8 member) group can do is limited to narrow geographies and therefore does not represent a major threat. Once a network grows to 4550 members, they can mount large attacks across multiple geographies. They are also very difficult to eliminate due to geographically dispersion of cells. However, during the transition to a larger group they are vulnerable to disruption. This vulnerability necessitates fast counter-terrorist action (this gives credibility to the military strategists who claim we didn't have enough troops in Iraq immediately after the war, nor were we quick enough to establish martial law) during that short period of time a network is transitioning in size. This size dynamic can also be seen in criminal organizations. The mafia (BBC), despite their widespread influence, has closely mirrored the limits on group size: The Genoveses are the largest of the five families in New York and they recruited nine new foot soldiers, bring their total to 152. The Gambinos, had a terrible year from 2000-2001, losing 33 members, but they still managed to retain 130, making them the second largest in terms of manpower. Meanwhile the Luccheses have initiated three more gangsters, lifting them to third place with a total of 113 hoods on the streets, according to FBI reports. A recent Washington Post article on Islamic terrorist cells in Iraq says: Dempsey said he estimated there were only about 100 "foreign terrorists" in Baghdad, organized into about six cells. In Anbar province, which stretches across western Iraq and includes the strife-torn cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, Maj. Gen. Charles H. Swannack Jr. of the 82nd Airborne Division said he believed there were a total of 50 to 80 foreign fighters in eight to 10 cells. This indicates a cell size (the optimal size of the smallest viable network) of between 512 members. Note: The limits on organizational size does not mean that terrorist or crime organizations can't expand their ranks on a temporary basis. There are plenty of "contract" employees available. Also, there is also the potential for intergroup cooperation (we see this in both crime and terrorism). DESIGN FLAWS: METHODS OF ATTACKING CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE Complex infrastructure often exhibits extreme levels of vulnerability to non-planned events. The reason for this is may be found in an area of complexity research called highly optimized tolerance (HOT). HOT research has found that complex networks, like most global infrastructure, exhibit behaviors explained by the design considerations of its makers. The end-result of this planning is a network that is extremely robust against certain types of anticipated failures/insults but conversely is hypersensitive to unanticipated classes of uncertainty. NOTE: this isn't as obvious as it seems. Complex systems, like the Internet, operate well beyond the influence of any central management group and the thinking of the original designers. This research shows that the core design and operational decisions made by these groups does have a major impact on the ability of the system to respond to damage. Design Flaws The crux of this analysis is that global guerrillas can exploit the assumptions of designers to create major distruptions in complex networks. Further, once this is done, the network will likely work for the attacker by causing damage to itself (from outage responses gone awry to increased costs of operation). NOTE: This is very much the approach Lawrence of Arabia used in his Arab revolt. He attacked the Turk's train system which the designer's/users assumed to be safe because it was well to the rear of the front lines and it traversed remote areas. NOTE: This next section is an area that I am spooling up on. I do think it is possible to exploit system designer/operator assumptions. These assumptions create systemic flaws and not just spot opportunities. When I get it right, this will be a very useful section. Global Guerrilla Operations Manual>Infrastructure Attack>Planning (NOTE: this is a red-hat/oppositional approach to diving into a topic, don't be alarmed). When planning an attack on infrastructure (oil, electricity, gas, etc.), it is important to consider what the designers of the network had in mind. An examination of assumptions can lead to methods of exploitation. Let's walk through the exercise. General considerations. All large-scale infrastructure network designers follow the same general process: The economic performance of the network needs to be optimized (efficiency often trumps safety). They don't have sufficient resources to defend against all potential threats (limited means). Security is focus on the most recent, highest profile, and common threats (all of which have some historical basis) NOTE: I know that good network designers would say they make no assumptions as to what future threats would be and they are constantly updating systems in response to new threats and ongoing assessments. However, that isn't the case in the vast majority of deployed systems, particularly large infrastructure networks. Here are some general assumptions planners use in network design. They will not apply to all systems. These questions are better used as a way to start a thinking process on the topic (NOTE: I am working on these. This list is in the process of revision.). Assumption: the lowest cost routes are often best (Oil, Gas, and goods transport). Assumption: Large nodes (those that handle more load than others) are efficient (All networks). Assumption: the shortest path is the best path (Internet and Power). Assumption: hub and spoke systems are often efficient (Airlines). Assumption: outsourcing of network elements is often efficient (deregulated networks). Assumption: the systems environment is permissive (all networks -- in that crews will not be attacked). Assumption: parts of the system in remote areas are secure due to their inaccessibility (oil and Power). Assumption: external support networks will work as advertised (Oil, Power, . Make your own list of design assumptions that can be exploited within the system you are focusing on. Rank the potential attacks unearthed through this process according to operational factors. Sources: Carlson, Doyle (1999) "Highly-optimized tolerance: A mechanism for powerlaws in designed systems." HOMEMADE MICROWAVE WEAPONS The US military is hard at work designing, building, and using directed energy weapons (HERFs -- high energy radio frequency or microwave weapons) for use against microelectronics and fuel vapor. Unfortunately, directed energy weapons are much more valuable to global guerrillas than nation-state militaries due to the target imbalance between nation-states and non-state foes. The technology needed to build these weapons is generally available and inexpensive (numerous experiments, including this one, scroll to bottom, with a converted microwave oven demonstrate this). Homemade directed energy weapons will eventually become the weapon of choice for global guerrillas intent on infrastructure destruction. A good reference on this is Col. Eileen Walling's "High Power Microwaves: Strategic and Operational Imperatives for Warfare" (PDF). She lists four distinctive characteristics of a microwave weapon: They don't rely on knowledge of the system. They leave persistant and lasting effects on the system through destruction of circuits and components. They can impact systems even when they are turned off. To counter the weapon the entire system must be hardened. Here are some attributes of a microwave weapons: Entry to a system can be direct or indirect (through a variety of backdoor channels). Destruction occurs from the inside out. Extreme lethality for electronic components (and fuel systems). Repair is extremely difficult -- it requires high level systems analysis. Most systems are not hardened against microwave frequencies. Area attacks are possible. Insensitive to weather (rain, fog, etc.). Long reach depending on power used. Replenishment is easy (nothing except power is expended). Scalable size (a weapon that weighs less than 10 lbs is possible). Logistics are limited to battery/power source replacement. Limited collateral damage. I have in the Electronic field for around 25 years. Worked in everything from 2-Way radio to Home appliances to Computers. This problem may be caused by certain people tinkering with modified Microwave ovens. The typical household microwave oven operates at 2.45 Ghz using a tube called a Magnetron. A magnetron tube could be used as a weapon to cause symptoms or damage reported by victims on websites like this one. In my experience a magnetron is nothing more than a simple transmitter the puts out 1000 watts at 2.45 Ghz with a simple Waveguide and a Horn you could probly light up your neighbors flouresent lights in their house causing them to really freak out. Engineers that work at local TV and Radio stations know of this andf have known of this technology for 30 some years. The Magnetron is nothing new however the way people use the technology is new. Who would ever think about using a big transmitter to cause harm to people--Black ops??? Back in 95 a buddy and i were playing with a CB radio with a RF amplifier that took the typical 5 watts out and made it 150 watts--When we would talk on it (Transmit) at a red light ,9 times out of ten the blinkers on the car in front of us would blink strange or their tale lights would blink. This was caused by the radio waves coming off our little antenna on the roof of the car bleeding into the electronics of the other car in front or in back of us. It must be stressed that our goal was not this outcome,we were simply just trying to get out farther like 25 miles farther so we could talk into the next town. Technology can be used for evil and i would hope that people could be more responsible if they find their eqipment is interfering out causing damage to others eqipment or for everyones sake ,their health. Walked around for a bit sipping coffee thinking of my last post. I offered nothing in the way of help to people that may be victims of this kinda thing so here goes. Most if not all RF can be blocked by using METAL window screen with a wire running to a cold water pipe or tinfoil using same method. You have to remember that with any transmitter the power falls off with the SQUARE of the distance if your so inclined you can do the math :-) If i was feeling i was under some attack i would use the tinfoil method and then just paint over that or use some type of lining in the walls made of some lightweight screen--but just dont connect the metal to any wiring in the walls or you could be risking a fire. Microwaves are typically transmitted from the end of a waveguide and follow a straight line. This is why microwave relay towers are line-of-sight, the antennas must be "looking" directly at each other in order to communicate. There is no power loss over distance since the wave does not spread out like a lower frequency radio wave transmitted via a normal antenna. Only contact with objects will dissipate the power, such as collisions with water vapor in the atmosphere, etc. In the case of a magnetron being operated outside of a microwave oven cavity, the RF energy would emerge as a beam, kind of like an RF laser (but not really). The RF will not spread like the light from a flashlight but will stay in the straight and narrow line making it highly directional. A magnetron, factory installed in a microwave, cooks by filling the cavity with deflected waves. The microwave beam enters the cavity, hits the wall of the cavity and bounces until it hits another wall and bounces and this continues until the entire cavity is filled with microwave RF energy. The introduction of food and containers into the cavity will cause ―cold‖ spots in the cavity as a result of the waves being blocked or attenuated. This is why most modern microwaves have a rotating carousel, so that whatever is being cooked can get the best RF bath possible. With all of this being said it is worth noting that microwave radiation DOES NOT cook from the inside out. That is just ignorant urban legend folklore crap. The first water molecule that the wave hits will attenuate the wave. Why would a microwave favor a water molecule inside of a chicken breast over one on the surface? Rather the microwave heats from the outside in (after all, it has to strike just as another radiant energy source would, on the outside first.) This is not to say that microwave radiation does not penetrate into whatever it is that you are cooking, my only point is that the ―inside out‖ thing is crap. So, microwaves can be used to communicate over long distances or can be used to warm anything with molecules small enough to attenuate the RF at the specific operating frequency. Any of you out there who are smart enough to calculate RF wave lengths will appreciate that only a specific frequency of microwave will heat food since the wave length must be of a size that will be attenuated by fat or water in the item that you are heating (this is why an empty glass will not get hot in a microwave.) If you truly believe that the government (or whoever) is controlling you with microwaves, there is some good news. First of all, the power that is being used must be extremely low or you would have cooked by now. Second of all, microwaves can only warm/heat when directed at a person. If you do not notice any warming sensations then you can relax. However, the best news is that it does not take very much in the way of shielding to block microwaves. A metal roof would do the trick like killing a mouse with a sledge hammer. Simply installing some aluminum foil in the attic would also do the trick at a fraction of the cost of the metal roof. Paint with a high metal content (lead, aluminum, etc.) would adequately shield your entire home and you could even paint over the metallic paint with a more pleasant color if you desired. Sorry to hear of so many people being controlled by the government’s microwaves. I’ve not had that problem personally but if I notice any warming sensations I’ll get out the aluminum foil hat and hope for the best. Good luck to you all. Hello from snowy Russia! We now makin' this shit & i must say be careful. This is not a toy :) I have lost 2 guys (they are in hosp. now) Use parabolic antennas. And cover your balls if ya now what i mean. And... BEWARE!) P.S. sorry 4 my english) e: Shelly You made a mistake with a statement you made (There is no power loss over distance since the wave does not spread out like a lower frequency radio wave transmitted via a normal antenna). (NOT TRUE !!!!) If you are technically trained you should know that the (power) falls off with the square of the distance. Power ratio=ALog of DB/10 3 db horn=2 times power 6 db=4 times power 9db=8times power 12db=16 times power 18db=64 times power So lets say we started with a 1000 watt source and added a horn with 18db gain 64x1000=64,000 watts now you have to calculate the distance it has to travel in either air or a vacuum. (Yes it makes a difference) With 64,000 watts-2.4 Ghz at a distance of a hundred or so yards away the disruptance to ANYTHING would be minor. This is not Star trek stuff here,we are dealing with RF not plasma weapons or class 4 lasers (The type used for cutting steel)Take it from me--ive dealt with this stuff--It would take way to much power to make a dent in anything unleess you are right in front of the antenna or are firing up that tube with no horn and sitting in front of it. In that case paln on getting glocoma or cateracks early in life. Don't play with this stuff unless you are qualified cause the voltages reqired can kill you. I say -Walk your dog -tell your kids you love them,voluteer at a homeless shelter. Don't dwell on such crazy notions that cannot be of any benefeit in your life. Retired Engineer Maybe I could answer a few questions from this entire site. First of all, to R, if you want protection from HERF's or Microwave energy, you can either wear a faraday cage 24/7 or go on the offensive.(A best defense is an even better offense) To bmccarthy,I would suggest getting that on film because it is most likely your neighbor fucking with you, he knows you're paranoid. Microwaves are not part of psyops, they can't read your brain or control your mind.They use IR and LSD for that.And yes, if you wear tinfoil on your head you should seek professional help. to jhon, the magnetron produces microwaves at a 90degree angle from the nipple.As if you were facing the nipple, it wouldn't hit you directly, that is why a parabolic dish is used in most IW designs. As far as frying pork at 200ft....I have used a home built version of Dr.Albrecht's design that uses a 60KW magnetron coupled with a Tesla coil.(try http://www.microdry.com/research.htm) (http://www.nteinc.com/capacitor_web/) for 100kv caps. Or if you're too busy paying rent onthat trailor home try getting a team together and grabbing a magnetron from a cell phone tower and some capacitors from the back lot of the power company. The best I could do with this stuff(96 100kv caps. in a marx ) was boil water from 43.7 ft. and fry a PC from 7.9 ft. on a continous zap for 12 seconds. The design is the best there is for mobile/personel usage. and it still sucks. You guys might be better off figuring out other methods to combat your problems. If I come back here and get a lot of replies, I might post the design. THE SYSTEMPUNKT In Blitzkrieg warfare, the point of greatest emphasis is called a schwerpunkt. It is the point, often identified by lower level commanders, where the enemy line may be pierced by an explosive combination of multiple weapon systems. Once the line is pierced, armored forces dive deep into enemy territory to disrupt command, control, and logistics systems. Once these systems are disrupted, the top-heavy military units they support collapse in confusion. In global guerrilla warfare (a combination of open source innovation, bazaar transactions, and low tech weapons), the point of greatest emphasis is called a systempunkt. It is the point point in a system (either an infrastructure or a market), always identified by autonomous groups within the bazaar, where a swarm of small insults will cause a cascade of collapse in the targeted system. Within infrastructure, this collapse takes the form of disrupted flows that result in immediate financial loss or ongoing supply shortages. Within a market, an attack on the systempunkt destabilizes the psychology of the market to induce severe inefficiencies and uncertainties. The ultimate objective of this activity, in aggregate, is the collapse of the target state and globalization. THE BAZAAR'S OPEN SOURCE PLATFORM Earlier analysis (see the "The Optimal Size of a Terrorist Network" for more) indicates that the disruption of al Qaeda network mega-hub in Afghanistan has put strict limits on the size of the surviving virtual network elements. This size limitation may represent a barrier to attacks on the US, but is likely well within the capabilities of what is necessary for limited regional attacks. However, new innovations in group dynamics and the emergence of new unaffiliated guerrilla networks in Iraq may provide a method for regaining strategic capability. The Bazaar The decentralized, and seemingly chaotic guerrilla war in Iraq demonstrates a pattern that will likely serve as a model for next generation terrorists. This pattern shows a level of learning, activity, and success similar to what we see in the open source software community. I call this pattern the bazaar. The bazaar solves the problem: how do small, potentially antagonistic networks combine to conduct war? Lessons from Eric Raymond's "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" provides a starting point for further analysis. Here are the factors that apply (from the perspective of the guerrillas): Release early and often. Try new forms of attacks against different types of targets early and often. Don’t wait for a perfect plan. Given a large enough pool of co-developers, any difficult problem will be seen as obvious by someone, and solved. Eventually some participant of the bazaar will find a way to disrupt a particularly difficult target. All you need to do is copy the process they used. Your co-developers (beta-testers) are your most valuable resource. The other guerrilla networks in the bazaar are your most valuable allies. They will innovate on your plans, swarm on weaknesses you identify, and protect you by creating system noise. Recognize good ideas from your co-developers. Simple attacks that have immediate and far-reaching impact should be adopted. Perfection is achieved when there is nothing left to take away (simplicity). The easier the attack is, the more easily it will be adopted. Complexity prevents swarming that both amplifies and protects. Tools are often used in unexpected ways. An attack method can often find reuse in unexpected ways. Scaling the Bazaar The bazaar dynamic -- replete with stigmergic learning and entrepreneurial ventures -- is vibrant enough to keep Iraq in a state of chaos. The statistics speak for themselves. However, can the bazaar be exported to regional nations or strategic targets? Can it serve as a post Afghanistan (post al Qaeda) model for global guerrilla warfare? Yes. Here's why: Leveraged attacks. As we see in Iraq, if appropriately planned, small attacks can have amazing impact. The reason behind this are the system dynamics that amplify results. ROIs (returns on investment) in excess of one million fold have been measured in Iraq. This means that smaller groups can have tremendous impact at the strategic level if they adopt the Iraqi method. Swarms vs. single group activity. The bazaar offers the potential of many smaller attacks that can in aggregate have an impact equal to several large attacks. Many hands make light work. Combined with system leverage, this could reduce a nation to economic chaos in short order. Rapid innovation. The bazaar's demonstrated ability to provide rapid innovatation makes defense much extremely difficult. Rather than a single 9/11 style attack, we may see small attacks (less planning and training, fewer people, less support) against a plethora of targets. With a sufficient number of guerrilla networks unearthing vulnerabilities (particularly ones with system's leverage), security forces will likey be outmatched. THE BAZAAR OF VIOLENCE IN IRAQ A major difference between the guerrilla war we are fighting in Iraq and previous insurgencies is its lack of center of gravity as we commonly understand it (an ideology/party, ethnic independence, etc. or hierarchy). The real center of gravity in Iraq is a bazaar of violence. This bazaar is where a combination of local and global "hot" money is funding a diverse set of groups, each with their own methods of operation and motivations. Groups engage in co-opetition to share resources, intelligence, and funds (see the attached simplified diagram). They even expand operational reach by purchasing amateur mercenaries (not pictured). A bazaar of violence is a hallmark of global guerrilla warfare. When a state collapses, as it did in Iraq, global guerrillas quickly arrive with money and violence. Through this funding, terrorist violence, and infrastructure disruption; global guerrillas create conditions ripe for the establishment of a bazaar of violence. In essence, the bazaar is an emergent property of global guerrilla operations within a failed or collapsed state. Once established, it builds on itself and creates a dynamic that is almost impossible to disrupt. While it remains to be seen (although we will soon see it tested in Saudi Arabia) whether global guerrillas can collapse a weak state, it is clear that global guerrillas are more than capable of keeping a state in position of failure/collapse. By analyzing the feedback loops (ROI on attacks) for global guerrilla operations, the following pattern of activity can be discerned: Terrorist attacks. Car bombs, mortar attacks, snipers, etc. These attacks have a high return early in the process of destabilization. The media coverage is intense and the public is psychologically traumatized. The nascent governments reaction is often harsh which serves to alienate the people. It also serves to create new groups that either want to mimic active groups or those that want revenge for retaliatory government strikes. Over time, these attacks suffer diminishing returns (negative feedback) due to a lack of media coverage and population desensitization. Targeted killings (assasinations). These attacks, particularly if focused on relief or reconstruction organizations, can have an immediate and long-lasting impact on state recovery. It can break apart national coalitions and cause the withdrawl of companies and organizations that are critical to reconstruction. These attacks can also be used to dissuade participation in the government. Infrastructure disruption (network attack). These attacks are the bread and butter of global guerrilla operations. It deprives the emergent government of the ability to deliver those services necessary for legitimacy and economic recovery. It also, particularly in the case of Iraq, deprives the government of funds necessary for reconstruction and ongoing security. The rate of return from these attacks is by far the highest of all attack types. STIGMERGIC LEARNING AND GLOBAL GUERRILLAS Stigmergy is a term used in biology (from the work of french biologist Pierre-Paul Grasse) to describe environmental mechanisms for coordinating the work of independent actors (for example, ants use pheromones to create trails and people use weblog links to establish information paths, for others to follow). The term is derived from the greek words stigma ("sign") and ergon ("to act"). Stigmergy can be used as a mechanism to understand underlying patterns in swarming activity. As such, it can be applied to the understanding of swarming attacks by diverse bands of global guerrilla. The stigmergic information system that operates in Iraq is the bazaar of violence. A knowledge of stigmergy is a key to understanding how these groups learn. Stigmergic systems use simple environmental signals to coordinate that actions of independent agents (each with their own decision making process). These signals are used to coordinate scalable, robust, and dynamic activity. This activity is often much more intelligent that the actions capable by the individual actors (in this case individual global guerrilla groups). There are four basic mechanisms of environmental coordination. They are Marker-based. Markers or signs left by actors influence the action of other actors. In the GG (global guerrilla) context this is the site of an attack and the news of the attack that is delivered by the media. The description of the attack in the media is stigmergic marker for others to follow. Sematectonic. Environmental conditions influence the behavior of all actors in the system. For GGs, multiple attacks on a certain type of target can generate a security response by the nation-state that changes the potential of attacks against that type of target in the immediate future. An increased security presence for those types of targets is a sematectonic signal to select something else. Quantitative. The environmental signals are of a single scalable type. The size of a Global Guerrilla attack on a given location can meter the scale of the security response. Qualitative. The environmental signals are of a varied type that change the message based on their combination. Different types of attacks on the same target (the length of power outages in Baghdad) will yield information on the type of attack that is the most effective. A deeper understanding of the stigmergic signaling between global guerrillas will enable the development of ways to disrupt their activity. The examples listed above are by no means exhaustive (I will include a longer list in my book on Global Guerrillas). The Early Hackers The beginnings of the hacker culture as we know it today can be conveniently dated to 1961, the year MIT acquired the first PDP-1. The Signals and Power Committee of MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club adopted the machine as their favorite tech-toy and invented programming tools, slang, and an entire surrounding culture that is still recognizably with us today. These early years have been examined in the first part of Steven Levy's book Hackers [Levy]. MIT's computer culture seems to have been the first to adopt the term `hacker'. The Tech Model Railroad Club's hackers became the nucleus of MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, the world's leading center of AI research into the early 1980s. Their influence was spread far wider after 1969, the first year of the ARPAnet. The ARPAnet was the first transcontinental, high-speed computer network. It was built by the Defense Department as an experiment in digital communications, but grew to link together hundreds of universities and defense contractors and research laboratories. It enabled researchers everywhere to exchange information with unprecedented speed and flexibility, giving a huge boost to collaborative work and tremendously increasing both the pace and intensity of technological advance. But the ARPAnet did something else as well. Its electronic highways brought together hackers all over the U.S. in a critical mass; instead of remaining in isolated small groups each developing their own ephemeral local cultures, they discovered (or re-invented) themselves as a networked tribe. The first intentional artifacts of the hacker culture—the first slang lists, the first satires, the first self-conscious discussions of the hacker ethic—all propagated on the ARPAnet in its early years. In particular, the first version of the Jargon File developed as a crossnet collaboration during 1973–1975. This slang dictionary became one of the culture's defining documents. It was eventually published as "The Hacker's Dictionary" in 1983; that first version is out of print, but a revised and expanded version is New Hacker's Dictionary [Raymond]. Hackerdom flowered at the universities connected to the net, especially (though not exclusively) in their computer science departments. MIT's AI and LCS labs made it first among equals from the late 1960s. But Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) and Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) became nearly as important. All were thriving centers of computer science and AI research. All attracted bright people who contributed great things to the hacker culture, on both the technical and folkloric levels. To understand what came later, though, we need to take another look at the computers themselves; because the AI Lab's rise and its eventual fall were both driven by waves of change in computing technology. Since the days of the PDP-1, hackerdom's fortunes had been woven together with Digital Equipment Corporation's PDP series of minicomputers. DEC pioneered commercial interactive computing and time-sharing operating systems. Because their machines were flexible, powerful, and relatively cheap for the era, lots of universities bought them. Cheap time-sharing was the medium the hacker culture grew in, and for most of its lifespan the ARPAnet was primarily a network of DEC machines. The most important of these was the PDP-10, first released in 1967. The 10 remained hackerdom's favorite machine for almost fifteen years; TOPS-10 (DEC's operating system for the machine) and MACRO-10 (its assembler) are still remembered with nostalgic fondness in a great deal of slang and folklore. MIT, though it used the same PDP-10s as everyone else, took a slightly different path; they rejected DEC's software for the PDP-10 entirely and built their own operating system, the fabled ITS. ITS stood for `Incompatible Time-sharing System' which gives one a pretty good fix on the MIT hackers' attitude (technically, the name was a play on its predecessor, the Compatible Time-Sharing System CTSS). They wanted it their way. Fortunately for all, MIT's people had the intelligence to match their arrogance. ITS, quirky and eccentric and occasionally buggy though it always was, hosted a brilliant series of technical innovations and still arguably holds the record as the single time-sharing system in longest continuous use. ITS itself was written in assembler, but many ITS projects were written in the AI language LISP. LISP was far more powerful and flexible than any other language of its day; in fact, it is still a better design than most languages of today, twenty-five years later. LISP freed ITS's hackers to think in unusual and creative ways. It was a major factor in their successes, and remains one of hackerdom's favorite languages. Many of the ITS culture's technical creations are still alive today; the EMACS program editor is perhaps the best-known. And much of ITS's folklore is still `live' to hackers, as one can see in the Jargon File. SAIL and CMU weren't asleep, either. Many of the cadre of hackers that grew up around SAIL's PDP-10 later became key figures in the development of the personal computer and today's window/icon/mouse software interfaces. Meanwhile hackers at CMU were doing the work that would lead to the first practical large-scale applications of expert systems and industrial robotics. Another important node of the culture was XEROX PARC, the famed Palo Alto Research Center. For more than a decade, from the early 1970s into the mid-1980s, PARC yielded an astonishing volume of groundbreaking hardware and software innovations. The modern mice, windows, and icons style of software interface was invented there. So was the laser printer, and the local-area network; and PARC's series of D machines anticipated the powerful personal computers of the 1980s by a decade. Sadly, these prophets were without honor in their own company; so much so that it became a standard joke to describe PARC as a place characterized by developing brilliant ideas for everyone else. Their influence on hackerdom was pervasive. The ARPAnet and the PDP-10 cultures grew in strength and variety throughout the 1970s. The facilities for electronic mailing lists that had been used to foster cooperation among continent-wide special-interest groups were increasingly also used for more social and recreational purposes. DARPA deliberately turned a blind eye to all the technically `unauthorized' activity; it understood that the extra overhead was a small price to pay for attracting an entire generation of bright young people into the computing field. Perhaps the best-known of the `social' ARPAnet mailing lists was the SF-LOVERS list for science-fiction fans; it is still very much alive today, in fact, on the larger `Internet' that ARPAnet evolved into. But there were many others, pioneering a style of communication that would later be commercialized by for-profit time-sharing services like CompuServe, GEnie and Prodigy (and later still dominated by AOL). Your historian first became involved with the hacker culture in 1977 through the early ARPAnet and science-fiction fandom. From then onward, I personally witnessed and participated in many of the changes described here.
"BASIC SYSTEMS DISRUPTION"