The existential threat matrix.

 

EXISTENTIAL THREATS
DEFINITIONS
1. LIKELIHOOD: not a prediction, but rather a projection of trends already happening (Alzheimer’s), or recent attempts, whether successful or not (cyber infrastructure attacks).
2. SERIOUSNESS: both the relative amount of damage to our security and the difficulty of and time required  to repair damage or return to status quo ante.
3. DEFENSIBILITY: relative cost, time and creativity to prevent the threat from escalating or causing damage.
THE THREATS IN ORDER OF SERIOUSNESS.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
THREATS IN ORDER OF LIKELIHOOD.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
THREATS IN ORDER OF DEFENSIBILITY.
1. Electric grid/cyber infrastructure destruction due to EMP or cyber attacks.
2. Collapse of financial system due to unmanageable debt, extreme speculation or undermining of confidence.
3. Overwhelming of the U.S. economic viability due to Alzheimer’s and assorted dementias.
4. Our own Federal government becoming totalitarian.
5. Transnational gangs and narco terrorism.
6. White supremacist gangs and domestic terrorism.
7. Islamic terrorism, including use of biological, nuclear and/or chemical WMD’s.

Do you notice the pattern here? If the number one threat is simultaneously the most serious, likely and defensible, and the authorities responsible for defending against the threat are doing their job, shouldn’t we feel decently secure? Who’s responsible for defending, and what have they done? The Federal government bears most of the responsibility for preventing an airborne E.M.P., which would be the most widespread and serious kind, delivered by a missile or long range bomber, as well as finding or stopping smuggled nuclear devices. Another government responsibility is “hardening” the electronics used by the military and by government entities, as well as preventing or fixing cyberattacks. Recently, the City of Atlanta was virtually held hostage for over a week by a ransomware attack. It isn’t very encouraging when you consider that this ransomware–SamSam–was identified in 2015 and is defensible, but….Atlanta also suffered a cyberattack in 2017, due also to “poor cybersecurity hygiene” i.e. not following their own procedures.

When it comes to the power grids (power plants, transformers, transmission lines), which are owned and operated by both government entities and private companies. At the beginning of the 20th century, over 4,000 individual electric utilities operated in isolation from each other. This inefficiency led to utilities connecting transmission systems. In 2018, there are 3 main “interconnections in the lower 48 states: Eastern Interconnection (east of Rocky Mtns., Texas Panhandle); Western Interconnection (Rockies west); Electric Reliability Council of Texas-ERCOT (most of Texas). There are still a myriad of issues preventing sufficient “hardening” of the grids against E.M.P. We have a ways to go, because there is no central authority, and many individual utilities can’t, or don’t want to bear the cost.

Another variation on this threat: Cutting of undersea cables that deliver internet service all over the world. Headlines: WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The presence of Russian submarines and spy ships near undersea cables carrying 95% of global Internet communications has U.S. officials concerned that Russia could be planning to sever the lines in periods of conflict, the New York Times reported on Sunday. Uh oh, better cram your binge-watching into this weekend….except, this headline is 3 years old (2015)! What has been done about this threat? I don’t know. New headline: The internet’s worst-case scenario finally happened in real life: An entire country was taken offline, and no one knows why. This one happened March 30, 2018! An entire country — Mauritania — was taken offline for two straight days due to an undersea internet cable cut. The 17,000-kilometre-long African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable was severed on March 30, cutting off web access partially or totally to the residents of Sierra Leone and Mauritania. It also affected service in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Gambia, and Benin. The ACE cable connects 22 countries, from Africa to France.

I recommend you read Lights Out by Ted Koppel, or any number of articles. I need to go out and buy some cases of bottled water and MRE’s. How about you?