In addition to all of our wars in the Middle East and the war that has erupted on the streets of America, we are now engaged in a cyber war with North Korea and an economic war with Russia. Without a doubt, the United States has the capability to do a tremendous amount of damage to both of them. But what about the damage that they could potentially do to us? We have a society that is absolutely teeming with soft targets. Our Internet infrastructure is extremely vulnerable, our debt-based economic system is already teetering on the edge of disaster, and government officials freely admit that security at key facilities such as power plants is sorely lacking. And these kinds of bitter conflicts have a way of escalating. The North Koreans and the Russians are both very proud, and neither one is going to back down any time soon. If a foreign power wanted to really make us hurt, it wouldn’t take much imagination at all. There are thousands of ways to do it. So Americans should not just smugly assume that we are untouchable. In a war, it is often those that are overconfident that get hurt the worst.
Last week, Barack Obama blamed North Korea for the nightmarish hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment and he promised that the U.S. would respond.
Well, it looks like that response began on Monday. According to Bloomberg, North Korea’s connection to the Internet was totally cut off…
North Korea’s limited access to the Internet has been cut off, according to a network-monitoring company, days after the U.S. government accused the country of hacking into Sony Corp. (6758)’s files.
North Korea, which has four official networks connecting the country to the Internet — all of which route through China — began experiencing intermittent problems yesterday and today went completely dark, according to Doug Madory, director of Internet analysis at Dyn Research in Hanover, New Hampshire.
Needless to say, that got the attention of the North Koreans.
On their end, the North Koreans are still denying that they had anything to do with the attack on Sony. And we may never know the actual truth. In reality, Russia could have carried out such an attack. Or it could have been the Chinese. Or it could have even been a false flag cyberattack conducted by a three letter U.S. agency. We just don’t know.
But what we do know is that North Korea is now vowing to take action against “the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland“…
“The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,” a report on state-run KCNA read.
“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” the report said, adding that “fighters for justice” including the “Guardians of Peace” — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack — “are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.”
So can North Korea back up those bold words?
We shall see.
But without a doubt our Internet infrastructure is very vulnerable. As I have written about previously, our big banks are under Internet attack every single minute of every single day. And in recent months we have seen a whole host of retailers and major corporations get hacked.
This is an emerging threat that should not be underestimated. As a society, we have become extremely dependent on the Internet, and these attacks are constantly becoming more powerful and more sophisticated.
I think that Steve Quayle put it very well during one recent interview…
“Cyberwarfare is increasing dramatically as we speak. There are serious concerns about the ability of the United States’ banking system to whether extremely sophisticated cyberattacks. The Sony breach is just one example of how a detrimental cyberattack can bring one of the world’s most prominent entertainment giants to its knees.”
And we do know that the North Koreans take hacking very seriously.
In fact, it has been reported that North Korea has a small army of hackers that are continually harassing the western world known as “Unit 121″…
Just like in a Bond movie, an army of teenage geniuses tap away at keyboards in fortified complex tucked away from prying eyes in a rogue state, bent on bringing cyber-carnage to their Western enemies on the orders of their leader who is bent on revenge.
But this isn’t the plot line from a film. This is North Korea in 2014. And the cyber-warriors inside have diverted from their usual work of disrupting governments and big business to turn their collective fury on Sony.
The building, the Kim Il-Sung Military Academy, is one of four North Korean universities known to train children, hand-picked for their intelligence from all around the country, and turn them into recruits for an elite group of hackers simply known as Unit 121 or Bureau 121.
Meanwhile, the struggle between the United States and Russia over Ukraine has escalated into a full-blown economic war.
At first, both sides started slapping each other with relatively minor economic sanctions.
But then things started escalating. I think that things really began to get serious for the U.S. when Russia started to make moves against the petrodollar. This is not something that has been reported on much at all by the mainstream media in the United States, but it is a very big deal. If you want to become enemy #1 in the eyes of the U.S. government, just start attacking the petrodollar. So when Russia began cutting the U.S. dollar out of oil and natural gas transactions, that definitely got the attention of some folks in Washington. You can read much more about what Russia has been doing in this regard in this article, this article and this article.
Of course Washington was not just going to sit back and let this happen. The Obama administration has retaliated by going after two of the most important pillars of the Russian economy – oil and the ruble. And without a doubt, a tremendous amount of damage has already been done.
At this point, Russia is facing a full-blown currency crisis, major banks are starting to fail and economists are forecasting a deep recession for next year…
The central bank bailed out its first victim of the collapsing currency, authorities announced a tax on grain exports to protect domestic stocks and a Reuters poll of 11 economists predicted that Russia’s gross domestic product would fall 3.6 percent next year.
Russia has been hit by what Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev recently called a “perfect storm” of plummeting oil prices, sanctions related to its military action in Ukraine, and a flight of investors’ capital — made worse by a lack of structural reforms that means the economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues.
But don’t count out the Russians just yet.
They are a very crafty people, and they are not afraid to fight dirty.
And it is important to keep in mind that the Russian Bear never forgives and it never forgets. Most Americans don’t realize this, but right now anti-American sentiment in Russia is actually higher than it was at the end of the Cold War era. Many Russians believe that this is a new Cold War, and that the United States is the greatest force for evil on the entire planet.
So while many Americans view this current conflict as a temporary foreign policy tussle about Ukraine, many Russians view this as a long-term struggle that is absolutely critical to the future of humanity. If you doubt this, you should check out some of the things that their leading thinkers have been saying.
This conflict between the United States and Russia is not going to end any time soon. And someday down the road, it could evolve into something more than just an economic war. But before that happens, the Russians have a whole host of other ways that they can damage us.
Yes, the United States can hurt Russia.
But Russia can also hurt us.
In the end, this conflict is not going to be good for anyone.
What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year? Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine. These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly. But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye? According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day. The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations. If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult. And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, I was absolutely floored…
“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”
What would you do without power for 18 months?
FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast. What they found was quite unsettling…
In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go dark if as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.
The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.
So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time? The following list comes from one of my previous articles…
-There would be no heat for your home.
-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.
-Your computer would not work.
-There would be no Internet.
-Your phones would not work.
-There would be no television.
-There would be no radio.
-ATM machines would be shut down.
-There would be no banking.
-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.
-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.
-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.
-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.
-Hospitals would not be able to function.
-You would quickly start running out of medicine.
-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.
If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary “American Blackout” some time. It will chill you to your bones.
The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time. We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.
Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it…
“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”
If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.
In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations. Here is just one example…
The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.
The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.
Have you heard about that attack before now?
Most Americans have not.
But it should have been big news.
At the scene, authorities found “more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings“, and little piles of rocks “that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”
So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?
It could happen.
In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.
For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given “the keys to the Internet” to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?
It’s true. The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian…
The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn’t easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer’s, expense.
What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet’s version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you’d have to enter “220.127.116.11” instead of theguardian.com.
If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the “reset button” on the Internet.
Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities. In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time…
A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) details widespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.
The report, released on Tuesday, found that approximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”
“In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”
And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks ‘Every Minute Of Every Day’“.
Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.
But at some point that will change.
Are you prepared for that to happen?
We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable. In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war. Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.
At this point, even NASA is warning that “civilization could collapse”…
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
So let us hope for the best.
But let us also prepare for the worst.
What would you do if you logged in to your bank account one day and it showed that you had a zero balance and that your bank had absolutely no record that you ever had any money in your account at all? What would you do if hackers shut down all online banking and all ATM machines for an extended period of time? What would you do if you requested a credit report and discovered that there were suddenly 50 different versions of “you” all using the same Social Security number? Don’t think that these things can’t happen. According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against U.S. businesses last year. And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, big banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”. These attacks are becoming more powerful and more sophisticated with each passing year. Most of the time the general public never hears much about the cyberattacks that are actually successful because authorities are determined to maintain confidence in the banking system. But if people actually knew the truth about what was going on, they would not have much confidence at all.
At this point, the attacks have become so frequent that there is literally no break between them. According to the Telegraph, major financial institutions are continually under assault, and the total number of attacks is constantly increasing…
Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.
Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.
The amount of money that some of these hackers are stealing is absolutely staggering. For example, during “Operation High Roller” thieves got away with somewhere between 78 million and 2.5 billion dollars…
Dissected last year, Operation High Roller marked one of the biggest online thefts to have been made public. According to details of the investigation, somewhere between $78m (£48m) and $2.5bn was last year stolen from thousands of bank accounts across Europe, the US and Latin America.
Among the customers targeted were rich individuals and high-value commercial accounts, with sophisticated software identifying the victims’ main bank accounts and transferring money to prepaid debit cards which could be cashed anonymously. Once the money had been taken, the hackers were able to hide their thefts by changing the victims’ bank balances so they appeared unaltered.
Do you find it unsettling that the authorities don’t even know how much money was actually stolen?
And earlier this year, another gang of cyberthieves was able to steal 45 million dollars from ATM machines…
A global posse of cyberthieves, armed with laptops in place of guns, hacked into financial institutions and stole $45 million from automated teller machines in a first-of-its-kind heist made for the 21st century, authorities in New York said Thursday.
Over a seven-month period ending last month, the authorities said, hackers broke into computer networks of financial companies in the United States and India and eliminated the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards.
Then, people involved in the heist withdrew tens of millions of dollars from ATMs in Manhattan and more than 20 other places around the world. In one case, surveillance cameras picked up a member of the “cashing crew” going from machine to machine, his cash-stuffed bag growing bigger with each hit.
But thefts involving tens of millions of dollars are just the beginning.
In the future, gangs of hackers, terror organizations or even foreign governments could use cyberattacks to bring the entire system down.
John McAfee (formerly of McAfee Associates) recently warned that we are now entering an era of apocalyptic cyberattacks. He said that in the “next world war … the aggressors will be people sitting at home in armchairs while their software turns … all of our guns, our bombs … against us.”
The truth is that it is not just our financial system that is vulnerable. Literally anything that is connected to the Internet could be attacked.
And that is a lot of stuff.
But for now, the big financial institutions remain the most prominent target. Just this week, we learned that a successful cyberattack on JPMorgan Chase resulted in the theft of the personal information of close to half a million corporate and government clients…
Personal information of nearly half a million corporate and government clients who hold prepaid cash cards issued by JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) may have been compromised in a cyberattack that took place on the bank’s network in July, the bank warned on Wednesday.
Corporations use JPMorgan’s cash card, known as UCard, to pay salaries, while government agencies use it for issuing tax refunds and unemployment benefits. JPMorgan said it discovered in September that web servers supporting its site, www.ucard.chase.com, had been hacked, potentially involving unauthorized access to the personal information of 465,000 cardholders, according to a Reuters report.
The issue was soon fixed and the incident has been brought to the attention of law enforcement authorities, JPMorgan said, adding that the bank has been trying to identify how many accounts were compromised in the attack.
Of course this was not the first major “technical glitch” that JPMorgan Chase has encountered this year. In fact, earlier this year thousands upon thousands of their customers logged into their bank accounts only to discover that their balances had all been reset to zero. That problem was fixed shortly thereafter, but I guarantee you that all of the customers that witnessed that “glitch” will remember it for a very long time.
And certainly JPMorgan Chase is far from alone in dealing with these kinds of issues. In fact, major U.S. bank websites were offline for a combined total of 249 hours during just one six week period earlier this year.
When it comes to the Internet, nobody is ever entirely safe. Every major website and every major company are being targeted. According to USA Today, a cyberattack that began on October 21st has resulted in the theft of the login information for about 2 million Internet accounts…
Almost 2 million accounts on Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo and other social media and Internet sites have been breached, according to a Chicago-based cybersecurity firm.
The hackers stole 1.58 million website login credentials and 320,000 e-mail account credentials, among other items, the firm Trustwave reported. Included in the breaches were thefts of 318,121 passwords from Facebook, 59,549 from Yahoo, 54,437 from Google, 21,708 from Twitter and 8,490 from LinkedIn. The list also includes 7,978 from ADP, the payroll service provider. According to a Trustwave blog, “Payroll services accounts could actually have direct financial repercussions.”
So be cautious on the Internet. The bad guys are out there, and they are becoming more sophisticated with each passing day.
And if you think that “the government will protect us”, you are just being naive.
In fact, government agencies cannot even protect themselves from these guys. For example, identity thieves have been making fools of the IRS for years…
The Internal Revenue Service sent 655 tax refunds to a single address in Kaunas, Lithuania — failing to recognize that the refunds were likely part of an identity theft scheme. Another 343 tax refunds went to a single address in Shanghai, China.
Thousands more potentially fraudulent refunds — totaling millions of dollars — went to places in Bulgaria, Ireland and Canada in 2011.
In all, a report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today found 1.5 million potentially fraudulent tax returns that went undetected by the IRS, costing taxpayers $3.6 billion.
So if you are waiting for the incompetent U.S. government to fix this problem, you are going to be waiting for a very, very long while.
As a society, we are constantly becoming even more dependent on the Internet.
Meanwhile, the attacks on the Internet are continually becoming even more sophisticated.
At some point those attacks are going to cause some major league problems.
It is just a matter of time.
****IMPORTANT UPDATE**** Apparently the big Internet companies are not as “innocent” in all of this as they originally led us to believe. So this additional information changes some of the conclusions that I reached in my original article. It appears that some of the biggest Internet companies have been cooperating with the government in this data collection effort at least to a certain extent. The following is from an article in the New York Times that describes how the U.S. government has been getting user data from major Internet companies…
The companies that negotiated with the government include Google, which owns YouTube; Microsoft, which owns Hotmail and Skype; Yahoo; Facebook; AOL; Apple; and Paltalk, according to one of the people briefed on the discussions. The companies were legally required to share the data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. People briefed on the discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are prohibited by law from discussing the content of FISA requests or even acknowledging their existence.
In at least two cases, at Google and Facebook, one of the plans discussed was to build separate, secure portals, like a digital version of the secure physical rooms that have long existed for classified information, in some instances on company servers. Through these online rooms, the government would request data, companies would deposit it and the government would retrieve it, people briefed on the discussions said.
****END OF UPDATE****
The U.S. government has been hacking in to the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple and has been taking their user data without their knowledge or consent. According to the Washington Post, the information being stolen includes “audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs”. This program is known as PRISM, and it was first revealed by the Washington Post on Thursday. Since the story broke, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has admitted that PRISM exists and so has Barack Obama. The Washington Post initially claimed that all of the Internet companies were willingly handing over their user data to the government. Now we are learning that is NOT true. In fact, all of the Internet companies named in the Washington Post story have denied knowing about PRISM or ever giving the federal government permission to directly access their servers. So this means that the U.S. government has been stealing massive amounts of user data from the largest Internet companies in the world without their permission. Of course this is highly illegal and it directly violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but you can bet that the Obama administration is going to do everything that it can to get the courts to “make it legal”. Hopefully the revelation of this program will be enough to get the American people to realize that we are rapidly being transformed into a Big Brother police state that is descending into tyranny.
Barack Obama has described the systematic gathering of cell phone records and the Internet spying that the federal government has been doing as “modest encroachments” that we should all just accept as part of the price of living in a modern world, but if we allow the government to get away with this, where will it end?
Even if we had a total “Big Brother” society where the government watched everything that we did 24 hours a day, bad people would still do bad things. There would still be terror attacks and great tragedies. No matter how much the government intrudes into our lives, it can never guarantee us 100% safety.
Those that founded the United States understood this. They did not want this country to be turned into a police state. That is why they guaranteed us some very important protections in the Bill of Rights. If the government wants to do a search, there are some very important procedures that must be followed first.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration appears to believe that the Constitution does not apply to user data on the Internet. The NSA is apparently hacking into Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple and taking whatever they want without ever getting permission from those companies.
You can bet that there are some very, very angry executives at those companies right now that are trying to figure out how to respond to these revelations.
All of these companies have vehemently denied that they were involved. At this point, there is no reason to doubt their very strong denials.
For example, the following is what
Dear Google users—
You may be aware of press reports alleging that Internet companies have joined a secret U.S. government program called PRISM to give the National Security Agency direct access to our servers. As Google’s CEO and Chief Legal Officer, we wanted you to have the facts.
First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government—or any other government—direct access to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a “back door” to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.
Second, we provide user data to governments only in accordance with the law. Our legal team reviews each and every request, and frequently pushes back when requests are overly broad or don’t follow the correct process. Press reports that suggest that Google is providing open-ended access to our users’ data are false, period. Until this week’s reports, we had never heard of the broad type of order that Verizon received—an order that appears to have required them to hand over millions of users’ call records. We were very surprised to learn that such broad orders exist. Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.
Finally, this episode confirms what we have long believed—there needs to be a more transparent approach. Google has worked hard, within the confines of the current laws, to be open about the data requests we receive. We post this information on our Transparency Report whenever possible. We were the first company to do this. And, of course, we understand that the U.S. and other governments need to take action to protect their citizens’ safety—including sometimes by using surveillance. But the level of secrecy around the current legal procedures undermines the freedoms we all cherish.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has issued a similar denial. He insists that Facebook never even heard of PRISM until Thursday…
I want to respond personally to the outrageous press reports about PRISM:
Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn’t even heard of PRISM before yesterday.
When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if is required by law. We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.
We strongly encourage all governments to be much more transparent about all programs aimed at keeping the public safe. It’s the only way to protect everyone’s civil liberties and create the safe and free society we all want over the long term.
So how has the U.S. government been getting this user data if they do not have the cooperation of these large Internet companies?
They have been stealing it.
Is this the kind of society that we want to have? Do we really want the government to be free to hack into the servers of Internet companies and take user data any time that it wants?
And guess what?
According to the Wall Street Journal, the NSA has also been gathering massive amounts of credit card data as well…
The National Security Agency’s monitoring of Americans includes customer records from the three major phone networks as well as emails and Web searches, and the agency also has cataloged credit-card transactions, said people familiar with the agency’s activities.
So if you ever bought something embarrassing with a credit card, there is a very good chance that the NSA knows about it.
If you don’t like where all of this is headed, then now is the time to stand up and say something about it.
Sadly, the truth is that most of our politicians see absolutely nothing wrong with our current system. The following is what Barack Obama said in response to the recent revelations about the NSA…
“You can’t have 100 percent security and also then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society,” he said. “I think that on balance, we have established a policy and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable with.”
Do you feel comfortable with the fact that the NSA is hacking into major Internet companies and stealing their user data?
I know that I definitely am not.
I think that the journalist that originally broke the story about how the government is systematically gathering our phone records summed up what many of us are feeling right now pretty well…
“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world,” charged Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper “The Guardian,” speaking on CNN. “That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.”
What do you think?
Is all of this government spying good for America or bad for America?
Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…
Have you ever wondered who controls the mainstream media? In America today, we are more “connected” than ever. The average American watches 153 hours of television a month, and we also spend countless hours watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, reading books and surfing the Internet. If someone could control the production of all of that media, that would make them immensely powerful. They would literally be in a position to tell people what to think. Well, what if I told you that there are just six enormous media conglomerates that combine to produce about 90 percent of all the media that Americans consume. Would that alarm you? It should alarm you. The truth is that our attitudes, opinions and beliefs are greatly shaped by what we allow into our minds. After all, they don’t call it “programming” for no reason. Even those of us that realize that we are connected to “the matrix” probably greatly underestimate the tremendous influence that the media has over us. We live at a time when it is absolutely imperative to think for ourselves, but most Americans are being absolutely overwhelmed with information and seem more than content to let others do their thinking for them. Sadly, this is greatly contributing to the downfall of our society.
And of course the mainstream media desperately does not want you to look at “the man behind the curtain”. They just want you to stay plugged into the “programming” that they are feeding you without asking any questions.
Fortunately, a growing minority of Americans are waking up and are starting to reject the mainstream media. An increasing number of people are beginning to recognize that the mainstream media is the mouthpiece of the establishment and that it is promoting the agenda of the establishment.
So why is the mainstream media so bad? The following are 7 things about the mainstream media that they do not want you to know…
#1 The Mainstream Media Has Very Deep Ties To The Establishment
Did you know that the president of CBS and the president of ABC both have brothers that are top officials in the Obama administration?
The big news networks have developed an almost incestuous relationship with the federal government in recent years. But of course the same could be said of the relationship that the media has with the big corporations that own stock in their parent companies and that advertise on their networks.
This is one of the reasons why we very rarely ever see any hard hitting stories on the big networks anymore. The flow of information through the corporate-dominated media is very tightly controlled, and there are a lot of gatekeepers that make sure that the “wrong stories” don’t get put out to the public. As a result, many of the “big stories” that have come out in recent years were originally broken by the alternative media.
#2 The Mainstream Media Gets Things Wrong Very Frequently
Even prominent members of the mainstream media admit that this is the case. For example, during a recent speech at Quinnipiac University CBS anchor Scott Pelley confessed that journalists in the mainstream media “are getting big stories wrong, over and over again”…
“Let me take the first arrow: During our coverage of Newtown, I sat on my set and I reported that Nancy Lanza was a teacher at the school. And that her son had attacked her classroom. It’s a hell of a story, but it was dead wrong. Now, I was the managing editor, I made the decision to go ahead with that and I did, and that’s what I said, and I was absolutely wrong. So let me just take the first arrow here.”
#3 The American Public Does Not Consider The Media To Be Very Trustworthy
Trust in the mainstream media has definitely been slipping. In fact, a Gallup poll taken last year found that distrust of the media had reached an all-time high. According to that poll, 60 percent of Americans “have little or no trust” that the media is reporting the news accurately.
A separate Rasmussen Reports survey found that only 6 percent of all Americans consider the news media to be “very trustworthy”.
Hopefully this trend will accelerate and a lot more people will stop trusting the media blindly.
#4 The Mainstream Media And The Politicians That They Worship Hate The Fact That They Cannot Control Internet News Sites
In the old days, the mainstream media had a virtual monopoly on the news. But these days, anyone with an Internet connection can put up a news site, and this is driving the establishment absolutely bonkers.
For example, Barack Obama is known to have a great dislike for the alternative media. The following is from a recent WND article…
NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd says President Obama was making it “clear” at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner over the weekend how he feels about the rise of Internet news sites like Politico, Buzzfeed and … well, WND.
“He hates it.”
Appearing on “Meet the Press” Sunday morning following Saturday night’s media, politics and celebrity soiree, Todd explained the president’s disdain for independent online news sources was showing during his speech.
“It did seem … I thought his pot shots, joke-wise, and then the serious stuff about the Internet, the rise of the Internet media and social media and all that stuff – he hates it, OK? He hates this part of the media,” Todd said. “He really thinks that the, sort of, the buzzification – this isn’t just about Buzzfeed or Politico and all this stuff – he thinks that sort of coverage of political media has hurt political discourse. He hates it. And I think he was just trying to make that clear last night.”
#5 The Mainstream Media Is Extremely Liberal
When it comes to politics, the mainstream media is far more liberal than the general population is.
For example, one survey found that 41 percent of American voters believe that the average reporter is more liberal than they are, while only 18 percent believe that the average reporter is more conservative than they are.
A very disturbing UCLA study on media bias discovered that the vast majority of media outlets are “left of center”…
Of the 20 major media outlets studied, 18 scored left of center, with CBS’ “Evening News,” The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ranking second, third and fourth most liberal behind the news pages of The Wall Street Journal.
And even MSNBC has confirmed the liberal bias of the media. According to MSNBC, mainstream journalists are far more likely to donate their own money to Democrats than they are to Republicans…
MSNBC.com identified 143 journalists who made political contributions from 2004 through the start of the 2008 campaign, according to the public records of the Federal Election Commission. Most of the newsroom checkbooks leaned to the left: 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes. Only 16 gave to Republicans. Two gave to both parties.
#6 Six Mammoth Media Corporations Produce About 90 Percent Of The Media That Americans Consume
As I mentioned at the top of this article, there are six giant media behemoths that control almost all of the media that we consume. These corporate giants own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, video game makers, music labels and even many of our favorite websites.
The media ownership chart posted below originally comes from a previous article that I authored entitled “Who Owns The Media? The 6 Monolithic Corporations That Control Almost Everything We Watch, Hear And Read“, but it has been updated to reflect some of the latest information. The power that these companies have is so vast that it is hard to put into words…
Home Box Office (HBO)
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
ABC Television Network
The History Channel
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
277 Radio Stations
Buena Vista Games
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Country Music Television (CMT)
Nick at Nite
The Movie Channel
Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
My Network TV
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
CBS Television Network
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CW Network (50% ownership)
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network
NBC Television Network
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Studio Home Video
#7 The American People Are Absolutely Addicted To The Mainstream Media
In a previous article about the media, I noted that the average American watches 153 hours of television a month.
When you allow that much information to be downloaded into your brain, it is going to have a dramatic impact on how you think.
Americans are more “connected” than they ever have been before. This is especially true of our kids. They are constantly on one sort of electronic device or another. The following is a brief excerpt from a recent article by Daniel Taylor…
According to a 2010 LA Times report, young people spend on average 53 hours a week watching TV, playing video games, and sitting at the computer.
Facebook users spend about 15 hours a month on the social networking site.
People are walking – and driving – blindly while texting, sometimes walking into fountains and even falling off cliffs.
If that Los Angeles Times report is true, that means that our young people are spending more than 200 hours a month connected to the media.
But we are only awake for about 480 hours a month.
When it comes to influencing the American people, nobody has more power than the big media companies do.
And until we can break this sick addiction to the mainstream media and get people to start thinking for themselves, we will never see widespread changes in our society. As long as people are being “programmed” by the mainstream media, they will continue to express the opinions, attitudes and beliefs that have been downloaded into their minds.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. It is crucial that we wake as many people up as possible while we still can.
What would you do if all the lights went out and they never came back on? That is a question that the new NBC series “Revolution” asks, but most people have no idea that a similar thing could happen in real life at any moment. A single gigantic electromagnetic pulse over the central United States could potentially fry most of the electronics from coast to coast if it was powerful enough. This could occur in a couple of different ways. If a powerful nuclear weapon was exploded at a high enough altitude, it could produce an electromagnetic pulse powerful enough to knock out electronics all over the country. Alternatively, a massive solar storm could potentially cause a similar phenomenon to happen just about anywhere on the planet without much warning. Of course not all EMP events are created equal. An electromagnetic pulse can range from a minor inconvenience to a civilization-killing event. It just depends on how powerful it is. But in the worst case scenario, we could be facing a situation where our electrical grids have been fried, there is no heat for our homes, our computers don’t work, the Internet does not work, our cell phones do not work, there are no more banking records, nobody can use credit cards anymore, hospitals are unable to function, nobody can pump gas, and supermarkets cannot operate because there is no power and no refrigeration. Basically, we would witness the complete and total collapse of the economy. According to a government commission that looked into these things, approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population would die from starvation, disease and societal chaos within one year of a massive EMP attack. It would be a disaster unlike anything we have ever seen before in U.S. history.
Most Americans are totally clueless about what an EMP attack could do to this nation, but the threat is very real. There was even a congressional commission that studied the potential effects of an EMP attack on the United States for eight years…
The US Congress in 2000 established the Congressional Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. In 2004, the committee produced a 70-page executive summary on the EMP threat, and it issued a final report on the matter in 2008. According to the report, “several potential adversaries have or can acquire the capability to attack the United States with a high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A determined adversary can achieve an EMP attack capability without having a high level of sophistication.”
Dr. William Graham was the chairman of that commission, and he says that an EMP attack could knock the United States back into the 1800s in just a single moment…
An EMP attack “could not only take down power grids, which are fragile anyway in this country, and telecommunications networks, and financial networks, and traffic controls and many other things, but in addition, there is a very close interrelationship among those national infrastructure capabilities,” Graham says.
“So, for example, we need telecommunications to re-establish the power network, and we need the power network to keep telecommunications going for more than a few hours. And we need the financial network to continue to operate to maintain the economy, we need the transportation system, roads, street lights, control systems, to operate just to get people to the failed power, telecommunication and other systems,” he adds.
Life after an EMP attack “would probably be something that you might imagine life to be like around the late 1800s but with several times the population we had in those days, and without the ability of the country to support and sustain all those people,” Graham says. “They wouldn’t have power. Food supplies would be greatly taken out by the lack of transportation, telecommunication, power for refrigeration and so on.”
Unfortunately, very few of us are equipped to survive in such an environment. We have become incredibly dependent on technology, and most Americans would have no idea how to do something as simple as growing their own food. Most people would be in a very serious amount of trouble in a very short period of time.
An article by Mac Slavo detailed some of the things that we could expect in the aftermath of a massive electromagnetic pulse…
The first 24 – 48 hours after such an occurrence will lead to confusion among the general population as traditional news acquisition sources like television, radio and cell phone networks will be non-functional.
Within a matter of days, once people realize the power might not be coming back on and grocery store shelves start emptying, the entire system will begin to delve into chaos.
Within 30 days a mass die off will have begun as food supplies dwindle, looters and gangs turn to violent extremes, medicine can’t be restocked and water pump stations fail.
Are you prepared for such an event?
If not, why not?
And actually, high altitude nuclear explosions and solar storms are not the only things that could produce sizable EMP bursts.
For example, the U.S. military has developed “a directed electromagnetic pulse gun” that can take out all electronics within a limited area. This kind of weapon can be fired from a plane, a cruise missile or even a drone. The following is from a recent WND article…
A pre-programmed cruise missile not too different from a drone has been proven to be capable of blasting out an EMP-type microwave that was able to destroy personal computers and electrical systems inside a building over which it was flying.
The U.S. Air Force and its contractor Boeing have created the High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project, or CHAMP, which was just tested over a Utah desert.
Other nations such as Russia and China are busy developing similar weapons. The ability to instantly take out the electronics of the enemy would be a very powerful advantage.
Even North Korea has been working on this kind of technology. According to Newsmax, it is believed that they may have tested a “Super-EMP” weapon back in 2009…
North Korea’s last round of tests, conducted in May 2009, appear to have included a “super-EMP” weapon, capable of emitting enough gamma rays to disable the electric power grid across most of the lower 48 states
As this technology becomes more widespread, it will soon be accessible to just about everyone. You don’t actually need a nuclear weapon to set off a massive electromagnetic pulse. A non-nuclear pulse generator can do the same thing. If you set one off next to a power station you could potentially take out the electrical grid for an entire region.
Terrorist groups and lone wolf crazies could even use portable radio frequency weapons to do a tremendous amount of electromagnetic damage over a more limited area. The following is from a recent article by F. Michael Maloof…
Such an individual with a penchant for electronics can pull together components from a Radio Shack or electronic store – even order the components off of selected Internet websites – and fashion a radio frequency, or RF, weapon.
As microprocessors become smaller but more sophisticated, they are even more susceptible to an RF pulse. The high power microwave from an RF weapon produces a short, very high power pulse, said to be billions of watts in a nanosecond, or billionths of a second.
This so-called burst of electromagnetic waves in the gigahertz microwave frequency band can melt electrical circuitry and damage integrated circuits, causing them to fail.
Constructing a radio frequency weapon is not that difficult. In fact, you can find instructions for how to build them on the Internet.
People need to realize that we live in a world where technology is absolutely exploding and we are dealing with threats that previous generations never even dreamed of. As the world becomes increasingly unstable, it is inevitable that these kinds of weapons will be used.
It is only a matter of time.
What will life look like after an EMP weapon is used?
That is something to think about.
And we also need to keep watching the sun. It could produce a massive electromagnetic pulse at literally any moment. As I have written about previously, scientists tell us that it is only a matter of time before we are hit with a technology-crippling solar super storm.
Most people don’t even realize that the massive solar storm of 1859 fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America. If such a storm hit us today, the damage would potentially be in the trillions of dollars. The following is from a recent New York Times article…
A powerful solar (or “geomagnetic”) storm has the potential to simultaneously damage multiple transformers in the electricity grid and perhaps even bring down large sections of it, affecting upwards of a hundred million people in the United States for many months, if not years.
These huge transformers are expensive and difficult to replace, and not many are stockpiled in the United States for an emergency. In the worst case, the impact would be devastating: An outage could cost a few trillion dollars, with full recovery taking years. Not only would parts of the grid be compromised, but telephone networks, undersea cables, satellites and railroads also would be affected.
A 2008 National Academy of Sciences study warned that “because of the interconnectedness of critical infrastructures in modern society,” the “collateral effects of a longer-term outage” would likely include “disruption of the transportation, communication, banking and finance systems, and government services; the breakdown of the distribution of potable water owing to pump failure; and the loss of perishable foods and medications because of lack of refrigeration.”
By the way, 2013 is the peak of the current solar cycle. So we are moving into a time period when conditions will be very favorable for solar storms.
Let us hope that we are never hit with a massive electromagnetic pulse that is strong enough to take out all of our electronics.
But if it did happen, and all the lights went out for good, what would you do?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below…