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Re: [GZG] [HIST] Military Hackers

From: Adrian Johnson <ajohnson@i...>
Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 19:15:18 -0500
Subject: Re: [GZG] [HIST] Military Hackers

>>On a level more applicable to our gaming stuff, picture
>>special operations troops trained to attack and take over an enemy
>>communications/data nexus.  They break in, crack into the data systems
>>dump in viruses, etc etc etc.  I figure that in the future dedicated
>>military data communication systems will have to be (as much as
>>seperated from civilian networks.  
>I disagree, for the same reason that military ground transportation
>separate from civilian ground transportation. What is obvious is that
you can
>cripple a nation without even TOUCHING it's military data
>systems. Collapse the US economy, and it won't matter how good the
>is. If the hackers are terrorists in a nation that does not condone the
>activity, there isn't much you can do militarily anyway.

OK, maybe I should have been more specific.  Operational command of
military forces is presently conducted using seperate chains of
communication - the military (well, the US and maybe a couple of others)
have communication satellites, microwave comms systems, etc etc - like
super low frequency systems the US Navy uses to communicate with
missile subs.  Data transfer systems, particularly for operational
and control -  would have to work the same way - 'cause otherwise they'd
too easy to hack.  The kinds of systems I was referring to are things
the data nets an artillery regiment would use to transfer info between
dispursed gun/missile systems, etc.  Even better would be the logistics
tracking/organizing data networks - imagine inserting false info into a
brigade supply system computer.  Military ground transportation isn't
separate from the civvie system because it can't be (we all use the same
railroads, canals, etc.) - unless you wanted to spend countless billions
$$$ to construct a parallel physical infrastructure.  You can put up
separate communication satellites or have a Signals Squadron lay down 50
miles of land lines around a disbursed artillery park.	A brigade data
network shouldn't be designed to use the civilian telecoms network -
if the brigade is deployed to an area without that infrastructure.  This
isn't to say that the military will put up their own phone lines and
use the Internet - but for dedicated operational command and control in
tactical environment, they MUST have hardened systems that are easier to
defend from external penetration.  So of course their enemies will want
crack into them.

You are absolutely correct about the ability to cripple a nation without
getting at it's military comms. systems - but that isn't what I meant. 
was talking about a more limited tactical situation
level) rather than the whole nation-to-nation strategeic thing...
Destroying a nation's economy is like declaring a nuke war - you gotta
really sure you are going to win, 'cause it's total war from then on.
Going after a local area data network would be part of the tactical
operations of a high-tech military - and would not be seen as the kind
"escalation" of the conflict that taking out a stock market would... 
new strategic stalemate would be MAED rather than MAD - Mutually Assured
Economic Destruction...

>No, I think in the future a general hardening of the infrastructure
will be
>needed. Unfortunately, governments have to realize for this to happen
>companies and individuals need strong crypto. I fear it will take a
failure on
>a massive scale for this to become obvious...


>>I could see a "commando" type unit raiding one of these commo points
>>break into their network.  It would make an interesting scenario in a
>>campaign game, at the very least.  If you succeed in getting your
>>"specialists" into a comms bunker, the enemy force suffers in the next
>>couple of games from poor command-and-control - all kinds of game
>>you could use...
>Hmmm. I see this as too easy to cut off. If I knew my comms bunker was
>to fall, I'd just cut that node off the network. Stop taking anything
>I suspect that this would be a small, special forces operation (or an
>intelligence op) ala Cyberpunk-like activities. I don't see this being
>overt militarty operation on the scale used in SG2.
>I personally think that Infowar will be so different from conventional
>as to be impossible to game with current miniatures rules.

I guess that depends on the assumptions you make about how the tech
in your universe.  How about a situation where the tech becomes so good,
the measures/countermeasures so complex and capable, that the military
forces resort to using lower-tech equipment simply to keep it from being
spoofed -  keep a low-tech backup (like telecommunications by landline)
provide some kind of assistance while the datawarriors fight it out.

It's like the idea of battle magics in fantasy settings - the wizards
unbelievably powerful spells to cast, if they could cast them unapposed
but they spend their time fighting off the other side's wizards and
preventing them from doing the same thing... the net result is a balance
whereby the wizards negate each other, and the grunts still have to slog
out in the middle of the field.  The grunts have to give orders, so they
wave flags and blow bugles - if you kill the flag bearer or the bugler,
they can't give orders 'til they get somebody else on scene who can blow
bugle.	Same situation with hackers - our infowarriors will be fighting
theirs, but the grunts still have to plot artillery fire missions and
for resupply.

Also - in this future universe of ours we shouldn't, I think, assume a
universal penetration of super-high-tech - what about colony worlds
have a low-tech local militia fighting another low-tech militia.  The
invades a NAC allied colony, but the FSE and NAC forces deployed are
Battalion size.  Lots of local allies on both sides, and limited
 The locals scout on horseback.  They have ordinary radio communication
nets.  Their military forces are run "the good old way" ah la 20th
century...  etc.  

I guess the great thing about a fictional setting is that we can define
into it anything we want.  It may not make sense to say that in a
completely "modern" battle between the FSE and NAC there will be
opportunities for the kind of "data-commando" mission I suggested
but whose to say that there won't be endless lower-tech confrontations
where that kind of thing might be appropriate. 

Or not.

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