Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baghdad Electrical Service Headed to U.S.?

The new fear is hackers disabling the U.S. power grid, according to a new government video previewed by V.P. Dick Cheney. Are Baghdad levels of electrical service soon headed our way? Not if Mr. Amit Yoran can help it. The ex-cyber chief for Homeland Security cited the impact of the video's theoretical attack. "You can see it catch fire."

Amit happens to be CEO of NetWitness, a firm which makes network monitoring software. According to the company's promotional material, NextGen detects both external and internal threats. It costs $40,000 a pop. Now how many networks would need to be protected to cover the whole grid?

What did the folks who currently manage our power grid have to say about the video? "The video is not a realistic representation of how the power system would operate," said Stan Johnson, a manager at the North American Electric Reliability Corp., the Princeton, N.J.-based organization charged with overseeing the power grid.

But NetWitness has a product it wants to sell to the government. It happens the federal government created the product to begin with, as the NextGen is "a new, commercial version of a network forensics and monitoring tool that was first built for the intelligence community nearly 10 years ago." Several NetWitness executives and their new, just weeks old product have their roots from Mantech. How much does this leaked video help them with their promotional efforts?

Did Mantech Board member Richard Armitage open the door for Amit to enter the V.P.'s office. Without reliable electricity will we be thrown back to the Stone Age?

Or did Richard Kerr grease the way for Mr. Yoran to make his presentation to Dick? As a high up in the CIA, Mr. Kerr headed the intelligence efforts prior to the Iraq War. You mean he has the gall to put that on his resume? Either way, I see two Mantech Board members with questionable histories.

Guess who invested in the spin off? Private equity firms rolled $10 million into the company nearly a year ago. And ManTech held on to a chunk as well, less than 5% according to their SEC filings.

Given this information, why the nonfactual fear based video? Are Baghdad levels of electricity really headed our way? Or does NewWitness want to promote its new security software product priced at $40,000? How badly do all those investors with high political connections want to grow their smoking returns? Likely bad enough to make a movie...