Parsing Cyberwar, part 3: Patch #1 – Lessons from the Gauss malware

Summary: In “Parsing Cyberwar – Part 3” Marcus Ranum discussed the logistical problems implicit in cyberweapons. We now have a case-study showing how quickly a new cyberweapon technology obsoletes itself.  This, coupled with the tendency of one cyberweapons’ getting burned and potentially burning others in its family tree, will to tend to keep cyberweapons in the tactical domain, where they’ll be part of a churning arms-race that happens in “internet time.”

War fascinates us. Magazines, books, clubs, and a thousand websites discuss every aspect, every weapon. But most often looking backwards, because the romance and excitement of war lies in past — combat with now-obsolete weapons. In the 17th century war aficionados loved mounted knights. In 1938 tanks were boring, cavalry were prestigious. In 2000 fighter jocks were hot, uav’s were boring. Now special ops are dashing, with cyberwar discussed mostly by nerds.

This series by Marcus Ranum shows us the frontier of war (and crime), helping us prepare for the future instead of polishing myths about trendy but now only niche forms of war.  You children might consider this the primary form of State-to-State war, seeing tanks and fighters only as toys on the playroom floor.


  1. About Gauss, new malware
  2. Building Gauss
  3. A Timeline of Quick Burn
  4. Pallida Narrow
  5. With Tweezers and Microscope
  6. Other chapters in the Parsing Cyberwar series
  7. For more information

(1)  About Gauss, new malware

The latest-breaking piece of malware in the Stuxnet/Duqu/Flame saga is called “Gauss.”  According to researchers at Kaspersky Labs (global IT security), it appears that all 4 of these state-sponsored pieces of malware were written by the same contractors, or by contractors who had access to a common code-base to build upon.

Read more


Peak Oil Doomsters debunked, end of civilization called off

Summary:  thisa brief analysis of Matt Savinar‘s Life After the Oil Crash.  Are we doomed?  Probably not.  My title is, of course, fun but absurd.  Peak oil is too vast a subject, the range of expert opinion too wide, for any blog post to pose as more than a introduction — showing one perspective of the many possible.  Still, I believe this makes a good case for betting that peak oil will not result in depression and war.   But it could easily mean two decades of severe economic pain.  Please see the conclusion for caveats, and the links at the end of the post for more information.

Ponder this excerpt from the widely cited Matt Savinar‘s Life After the Oil Crash.

“Are We ‘Running Out’? I Thought There Was 40 Years of the Stuff Left”

Oil will not just “run out” because all oil production follows a bell curve. This is true whether we’re talking about an individual field, a country, or on the planet as a whole.

Oil is increasingly plentiful on the upslope of the bell curve, increasingly scarce and expensive on the down slope. The peak of the curve coincides with the point at which the endowment of oil has been 50 percent depleted. Once the peak is passed, oil production begins to go down while cost begins to go up.

In practical and considerably oversimplified terms, this means that if 2005 was the year of global Peak Oil, worldwide oil production in the year 2030 will be the same as it was in 1980. However, the world’s population in 2030 will be both much larger (approximately twice) and much more industrialized (oil-dependent) than it was in 1980. Consequently, worldwide demand for oil will outpace worldwide production of oil by a significant margin. As a result, the price will skyrocket, oil dependant economies will crumble, and resource wars will explode.

The issue is not one of “running out” so much as it is not having enough to keep our economy running. In this regard, the ramifications of Peak Oil for our civilization are similar to the ramifications of dehydration for the human body. … A loss of as little as 10-15 pounds of water may be enough to kill him. In a similar sense, an oil based economy such as ours doesn’t need to deplete its entire reserve of oil before it begins to collapse. A shortfall between demand and supply as little as 10 to 15 percent is enough to wholly shatter an oil-dependent economy and reduce its citizenry to poverty. …

Savinar has great confidence about his vision.  No hedging with “if” or “maybe.”  Before booking flights to New Zealand or Tasmania, let’s consider this carefully.


  1. These forecasts seem very confident. Are they credible?
  2. Time
  3. The magic of prices
  4. Energy efficiency
  5. The global effect of high oil prices
  6. Update: where is Matt Savinar today?
  7. Conclusion
  8. For more information about peak oil

(1)  These are confident forecasts. Are they credible?

Does Savinar subscribe to the Psychic Hotline? Energy forecasts — esp. those warning of Peak Oil — have been notoriously wrong for many decades. Has the future suddenly become clear as glass? Let us parse the third paragraph on this home page.

Read more