For soccer fans worldwide, April 15, 1989 is a day that will in infamy. It marks the Hillsborough Stadium disaster where 96 fans were killed. It’s often labeled as a stampede, but the vast majority of fans died from compressive asphyxiation. They weren’t trampled. They were suffocated while standing upright. Drowning in air.
Now, thirty years later, with legal proceedings still lingering, the city of Liverpool has a memorial planned for that precise moment in time. At 3:06 p.m., everything will come to a “complete standstill.” Banners will be hung. Bells will be rung. Candles and lanterns will be lit. And a memorial service will be held as flags are flown at half-mast. These represent traditional ways to honor victims of a senseless tragedy.
While it’s certainly understandable to mourn those who perished, I think it would be a good idea, in the here and now, to take a serious look at the future of cyber-terrorism and how it could conceivably impact large, confined crowds. Forgive the sarcasm, but everywhere I go, everyone’s holding a cell phone within a 6 inch proximity of their face. This strikes me as a significant dynamic.
Now if you examine the symbolism and preparations for the Hillsborough anniversary, one thing in particular seems to stand out. The time – 3:06 p.m.
When it comes to terrorism and acts of asymmetric warfare, “time” represents an under-appreciated element. For example…
I suppose some people will examine that obviously fake tweet and think to themselves — Hey, look at the time stamp. Those stadiums and ballparks would be completely empty! LOL. FAIL! However, if you alter the time stamp to 3:06 PM on 8 SEP 2019, 15 SEP 2019, or 22 SEP 2019, history will unfold differently. Why? Because time becomes the consequential, defining variable. Don’t believe me? Just google any of the dates and check out what’s happening all over the United States at 3:06 PM come mid-September.
Others will claim that Donald Trump could never be capable of posting something so dangerously incompetent. Still, others will ask, what if his twitter account was hacked? What if one of his staffers sent the tweet? Who else in the Oval Office has access to his cell phone? His twitter account?
For the past 3 years, the media has raged about Trump’s carelessness and flippancy regarding his social media posts and his penchant for incoherent misspellings, warped punctuation and reckless capitalization, ad hominem attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.
This might sound tit for tat, or twit for tweet or whatever, but how about the 467 presidential tweets which have been mysteriously deleted as of today’s date? They all have one thing in common. Answer: no explanation has ever been provided. Hmm, I guess they all just vanished.
Here’s a pretty straightforward question. Is Donald Trump’s twitter feed the most inviting target for a concerted hack on the planet earth? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I’m not sure there’s a definitive answer, but it’s the first thing that comes to my mind.
If this sounds a bit like fear-mongering, well congratulations! You just hit the nail on the head.
Of course all of these are valid concerns. But if you put on your thinking cap, or yarmulke, or hijab, or Make America Great Again ball cap, or whatever… here’s the real smoking gun. Couldn’t any reasonably intelligent 5th grader go online, make the exact same tweet in about 10 seconds, and saturate the internet to the best of their ability? What about troll farms and foreign actors with vastly superior capabilities in the realm of cyber-espionage? Phishing scams? Robocalls? Stingray technology? Bulk text messaging? Phone calls? Mass emails? Targeted spam? Reverse 911? Active shooter alerts? Extreme weather alerts (tornadoes, flash flooding, forest fires, etc.)? Presidential terror alerts? Facebook? Twitter? The internet? Get the picture?
All of these aforementioned attack vectors should be cause for apprehension. But like I was saying, the biggest concern of all is… “time.”
Unfortunately, it’s exceedingly difficult to have a serious conversation when the issue itself is undiscussable. Well, of course, until… time’s up. Translation – “Some people did something.” (Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-MN)
Then, people cry. Then, they pray. Then, they’re reluctantly forced to address an issue and fix the underlying problem. In this particular case, it’s the wireless equivalent of shouting FIRE in a crowded theater(s).
Because people will never truly understand a tragedy, until it happens to them. Until they’re personally impacted. It’s just how humanity works. It’s how society at-large seems to function.
In the grand scheme of the universe, 30 years is a statistically insignificant, infinitesimal blip. However, in the course of recorded history, 30 years is a much bigger deal. So think about the explosion of wireless technology. Combined with all the hyper-connectivity, social media hoax culture and fake news rhetoric. Our cyber-evolution of the past three decades seems to be one of tremendous consequence. I wonder if it’s just a matter of timing.
A wise man once said, those who fail to acknowledge the past are condemned to repeat it. Perhaps it’s time to take a serious look at the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 and ask a similar question. Could history repeat itself in 2019? But in ways deemed so incomprehensible, so unfathomable… that it could never be spoken of.
Well, of course… until “it” happened. It being a dominipede.