The name of this blog is “It’s Only Fiction ‘Til it Happens.” Elsewhere, in other posts, I’ve explained how that (U.S. Patent Office Registered) line, my tagline, came to be. Today’s another example. The headline reads, “Leon Panetta Warns of Cyber Pearl Harbor – ‘The Capability to Paralyze This Country is There Now’” Well, Mr. Panetta, it was actually there awhile ago, when I wrote The Eighth Day. That’s why a top government official said, “Frighteningly realistic. Homeland security had better read this one!”
I’m patting myself, and other authors who delve into the threat matrix as a plot point, on our collective backs. This headline proclaiming that the Secretary of Defense is finally catching on is actually “news speak” for, “We’re about to get hit, and hit really hard, in a way that will affect all of us.” The headline is misleading, in that Pearl Harbor is not the proper analogy, because Pearl Harbor was essentially a military attack on our navy. What the next cyber attack will do is take out everybody’s internet. Take out everybody’s bankbook. Take out everybody’s electric power. Take out everybody’s ability to function in our newly defined digital world. And that is a million times bigger than Pearl Harbor.
However, it is interesting that the Secretary of Defense used the Pearl Harbor analogy. As you know, Pearl Harbor started a major World War. By the end of that war, the total number of electronic valves and switches, those little things that go click and tick, in the entire world, was 2 million. Today, 2 million electronic elements easily fit on a printed circuit that is 1/10 the size of your pinky nail. The Pearl Harbor of today would eradicate billions and billions of those tiny 2 million circuit chips. It would be as if, back in 1941, everyone had a battleship in their backyard, and the imperial forces of Japan bombed every battleship, in every backyard.
We covered this ground very well in The Eighth Day. In that book, I describe a more insidious form of cyber attack – speaking for the bad guys, the best kind of cyber attack. In the book, I describe the type of attack that you can’t see coming or while it’s here. You only see the results. So, it gets a complete pass until things start going BOOM. I took a lot of heat for some of the prognostications in that book. A lot of people claimed I was giving terrorists ideas.
It’s my sad obligation to tell you that they don’t need any ideas from me – they’ve got their own book, chock full of nasty things that they can do to us – mostly because of things that we haven’t done to protect ourselves. It’s our vulnerability that speaks louder than my book. It’s our vulnerability that’s really the underpinning for this “backyard Pearl Harbor” that’s coming at us.
But hey, let’s be fair. Recently also in the news we have the Iran Worm. We have the Flame virus. These two nasty little bugs, like the kind of bug I had in The Eighth Day, are being credited with having been born in the United States. In the instance of the Iran worm, the entire current administration, of which Mr. Panetta is a part, is taking credit with coming up with this top secret cyber attack on Iran. And Flame is an incredibly complicated, super sophisticated, computer data stealing virus that is so well orchestrated that it has to be the work of one of the big top five governments on the planet. And we’ve already said, “It ain’t us!”
So, is The Eighth Day in the news? Yes and No. Yes, The Eighth Day deals with a cyber attack and all of the vulnerabilities that we have, becoming more and more enmeshed and connected in the web. But no, it ain’t as dumb as what’s going on in the news these days. Perhaps the government should read The Eighth Day and take appropriate action.
I’m just sayin’.