Climate Change

Published on December 22nd, 2011 | by Zachary Shahan

Was Climategate Cyber-Terrorism?

 

It was obvious to me the second I heard about “climategate” that it was a crime (on the part of the hacker). But it hadn’t crossed my mind that it could be “cyber-terrorism” — now, it seems painfully obvious that it very well could be. Don Shelby of the Minnesota Post delved into this idea this week. It’s really a great piece and I recommend checking the whole thing out. If you’re not yet ready to click over, though, here’s the intro (well, intro and a little more):

One of the world’s most famous climate scientists, Dr. Michael Mann at the University of Pennsylvania, communicated often with Dr. Jones at East Anglia. In the original reporting, Mann was often quoted, misquoted and taken out of context. Though the investigations have found he did nothing wrong, climategate has nevertheless hurt him.

Mann told me that the people who can’t abide the idea of global warming being true “have no legitimate scientific leg to stand on.  So, they have turned to criminal acts in an attempt to distract the public and policymakers.” Dr. Mann is convinced that the criminal act shows the work of “industry-funded front groups and the individuals who do their bidding.”

Cyber-terrorism?
The question is whether this can be characterized as a simple cybercrime — or are there elements of cyber-terrorism involved? Bombing a building is an act of terrorism, but it is not the goal.  The goal, according to experts, is to terrorize, immobilize and destroy one’s sense of security.

So I turned to one of the most respected cyber-terrorism experts in the country, Bruce Schneier.  Schneier has been called to testify before Congress. He is the author of eight books on the subjects of cryptography, warfare, crime and terrorism committed by cyber-criminals.

Schneier told me: “What I’ve been thinking about is whether the hack was intended to intimidate, threaten or bully. Then the crime becomes an effort to stop people from doing legitimate research. So, it is not just a data theft, but has a goal of creating a chilling effect, a threat, an intimidation.”

h/t Climate Denial Crock of the Week


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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the founder and director of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.



  • genealogymaster

    Zach hmmm 40 requests represents a flood?  I don’t where you get the flood from except the bible.  We have several whitewash evaluations and if you have evidence of a crime would you give it instead of making accusations you can’t possibly support.  You might think it is a crime but this information when comes with the hefty price tag (and was paid for by public) needs to be known.  We know that there is no consensus that this is all political.

  • genealogymaster

    Zach hmmm 40 requests represents a flood?  I don’t where you get the flood from except the bible.  We have several whitewash evaluations and if you have evidence of a crime would you give it instead of making accusations you can’t possibly support.  You might think it is a crime but this information when comes with the hefty price tag (and was paid for by public) needs to be known.  We know that there is no consensus that this is all political.

  • jim

    real scientist don’t evade foi request.looking at your cv you wasted alot of time and money on your education.we the people paid these corrupt academics for thier work product and if they are intimidated they must have something to hide.you sir aid and abbet the corruption of honest science,shame on you.

    • jim,

      I think you have good intentions, but you’re so far off track.

      As has been communicated many times, and as is obvious to anyone who has been following this story, certain people have spent years flooding these scientists with FOI and then using what they got inappropriately to muddy the waters.

      And, no, it wasn’t because they had something to hide, as at least 9(!) independent evaluations have now found. Using your logic, someone threatened by a mugger is intimidated because they have something to hide — I’m sorry, that logic is lacking much.

      I understand you’re upset about a scandal you think happened. But you’re lost in your anger.

  • jim

    real scientist don’t evade foi request.looking at your cv you wasted alot of time and money on your education.we the people paid these corrupt academics for thier work product and if they are intimidated they must have something to hide.you sir aid and abbet the corruption of honest science,shame on you.

    • jim,

      I think you have good intentions, but you’re so far off track.

      As has been communicated many times, and as is obvious to anyone who has been following this story, certain people have spent years flooding these scientists with FOI and then using what they got inappropriately to muddy the waters.

      And, no, it wasn’t because they had something to hide, as at least 9(!) independent evaluations have now found. Using your logic, someone threatened by a mugger is intimidated because they have something to hide — I’m sorry, that logic is lacking much.

      I understand you’re upset about a scandal you think happened. But you’re lost in your anger.

  • Well, Dhmiller, the main points:

    Did you read the full piece on the linked site? It spells out quite clearly how this could be cyber-terrorism. And it fits everything I’ve seen.

    There’s been no indication so far that these emails were just leaked. All experts on the matter I’ve read comments from indicate that it was a hacking and was likely a well-organized one. I don’t know. But it’s not convincing in the least it was just a leak.

    Lastly, yeah, as someone who has spent enough time in academia to know everything isn’t hearts and kisses, the human side of these scientists is not surprising. But the important point is there was really nothing of importance leaked, but it was leaked in such a way as to frame the scientists and, likely, intimidate them.

    • Dhmiller

       If nothing of importance was leaked , how could it “frame the scientists” or “intimidate them”?

      You’re just a Dick Cheney clone — screaming “terrorist” in the hope you can silence others.  Fascists all.

      • Do you understand the meaning of frame? Did you pay attention at all to how the media and public responded to cherry-picked, misleading excerpts of emails? Did you know see and hear (even on some mainstream media) countless mentions of how the scientists should be beaten, killed, and imprisoned (again, because of people being misled by the cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes). Do you not realize that while nearly every climate scientist in the world (thousands of career climate scientists) come to one conclusion (that we need to act to stop human-caused global warming), nearly half of the U.S. population does not realize this and does not understand the basics of climate science (due to horrid disinformation acts like this)?
        Please, get a clue and do something to help, not hurt, the world.

  • Dhmiller

     

    Great Darwin, Zach! 
    Terrorism?????

     

    You’re as bad as Dick Cheney or John Bolton – a terrorist
    under every bed!

     

    Look: anyone familiar with computer technology knows it is
    as likely to be an inside whistleblower as a hacker.  The e-mails show scientists behaving badly:
    probably, someone on the inside had some axe to grind and found a way to vent
    his frustrations.

     

    I’m a physicist (Ph.D. from Stanford, 1983).  I realize that scientists behaving badly is
    par for the course – I’ve seen more than my fair share of it (take superstring
    theory… please!).  But the image the
    scientific community tries to present to the public is that we scientists are
    above such tawdry behavior, that, no, scientists do not play politics in the way
    that say lawyers or Wall Street financiers do.

     

    Someone decided to blow the whistle, pull the curtain aside,
    and let the public see what scientists really are – often, alas, petty,
    scheming human beings, just like the rest of the human race.

     

    Welcome to the real world.

     

    Personally, whenever I have the opportunity to pull the
    curtain aside and reveal that scientists are not saints but merely human
    beings, I do it.  If I had had access to
    the UAE e-mails, I would have dumped them on the Web, too.

     

    Dave Miller in Sacramento

    • Well, Dhmiller, the main points:

      Did you read the full piece on the linked site? It spells out quite clearly how this could be cyber-terrorism. And it fits everything I’ve seen.

      There’s been no indication so far that these emails were just leaked. All experts on the matter I’ve read comments from indicate that it was a hacking and was likely a well-organized one. I don’t know. But it’s not convincing in the least it was just a leak.

      Lastly, yeah, as someone who has spent enough time in academia to know everything isn’t hearts and kisses, the human side of these scientists is not surprising. But the important point is there was really nothing of importance leaked, but it was leaked in such a way as to frame the scientists and, likely, intimidate them.

      • Dhmiller

         If nothing of importance was leaked , how could it “frame the scientists” or “intimidate them”?

        You’re just a Dick Cheney clone — screaming “terrorist” in the hope you can silence others.  Fascists all.

        • Do you understand the meaning of frame? Did you pay attention at all to how the media and public responded to cherry-picked, misleading excerpts of emails? Did you know see and hear (even on some mainstream media) countless mentions of how the scientists should be beaten, killed, and imprisoned (again, because of people being misled by the cherry-picked, out-of-context quotes). Do you not realize that while nearly every climate scientist in the world (thousands of career climate scientists) come to one conclusion (that we need to act to stop human-caused global warming), nearly half of the U.S. population does not realize this and does not understand the basics of climate science (due to horrid disinformation acts like this)?
          Please, get a clue and do something to help, not hurt, the world.

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