Cyber Warfare

The potential of Russia to invade Ukraine is red hot news. Experts speculate the first wave of attacks from Russia will be “cyber attacks” which I really had to do some research on this topic. Computers have always had some vulnerability to outside interference. What changed in the last two decades, is that everything is very interconnected, so the network security has real vulnerabilities. It really is machine verses machine, but because humans both code software to attack network servers and to defend them, it is all about people in countries openly violating international norms supported by their government.

A website can be flooded with requests and this can cause time-outs, or denial of service (DoS). It happened to me when I was trying to get an appointment for the first Covid vaccine. This was unintentional and the result of requests greatly exceeding the capacity of the overall system. It can happen intentionally also, and an individual website can be disabled. Frequently, this is called a “distributed denial of service” or DDos attack.

Wikipedia (see link below) states:

“In computing, a denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a cyber-attack in which the perpetrator seeks to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by temporarily or indefinitely disrupting services of a host connected to a network. Denial of service is typically accomplished by flooding the targeted machine or resource with superfluous requests in an attempt to overload systems and prevent some or all legitimate requests from being fulfilled.[1] In a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), the incoming traffic flooding the victim originates from many different sources. This effectively makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source.[2]

A DoS or DDoS attack is analogous to a group of people crowding the entry door of a shop, making it hard for legitimate customers to enter, thus disrupting trade. Criminal perpetrators of DoS attacks often target sites or services hosted on high-profile web servers such as banks or credit card payment gateways. Revenge, blackmail[3][4][5] and activism[6] can motivate these attacks.”

The DDos attacks have many different forms of attack and defenses. Attacks are meant to disrupt normal communications. The more technical details are provided in the Wikipedia summary as provided below.

As I prepared this post, cyber attacks by Russia had begun. Ukraine’s banks and Ministry of Defense reported the attacks. The impact is not considered serious. Hopefully, the international community is helping keep Ukraine’s cyber defenses in a high state of preparedness. See links.

Stay tuned,



Threatpost, “Ukrainian DDoS Attacks Should Put US on Notice–Researchers“, This is reporting from 2/16/2022 and the situation is highly fluid. There are US laws against cyber attacks, and European accords, but this is really very limited.

Wikipedia, Denial-of-service attack, There are many sites covering the cyber attack and defense issues. The summary goes into detail how network attackers look for any means to disrupt internet services through examining potential vulnerabilities. The cyber-extortionists profit by demanding payment in the form of bitcoins to call off the attack. Russia, North Korea and China may be training the next generation of these criminals. The cyber attacks can cause major disruption the telecommunication system, and weaken defenses. I am hoping that the NATO countries have already helped Ukraine to prepare for these attacks.

Trump’s Legacy

Three organizations (APSA, Siena and C-Span) provided rankings of US presidents. These rankings were based on surveys of historians, generally from well known universities. The APSA (American Political Science Association) and Siena (Siena College Research Association) were done in 2018, so they do not reflect the last two years of Trump’s term in office.

Donald Trump was 45th president of the United States, however since Grover Cleveland was the 22 and 24th president, it means there were really 44 presidents. It is convenient to divide these rankings by quartiles, as ranks 1 to 10 are the top ranked presidents and 34 to 44 are the lowest ranked presidents. Wikipedia has consolidated these surveys and also provides a breakout of the ranking of various factors, such as integrity and leadership of each of these surveys.

Trump is considered one of the five worst presidents in these three surveys. C-SPAN rates Trump as the fourth worst president in history.

SurveyTrump (#45)Pierce (#14)Buchanan (#15)Andrew
Johnson (#17)
Harding (#29)
APSA (2018)4441434039
Siena (2018)4240434441
C-SPAN (2021)4142444337
Ranking of Donald Trump in the lower fourth quartile

Since Harding’s term was from 1921 to 1923, the surveys rank Trump at a level not seen about 100 years. So, what qualities are lacking in Trump and the other presidents in this table? Siena ranks Trump as the worst (rank = 44) in the areas of background, integrity, ability to compromise and executive appointments. Interestingly, he has high rating in “luck” and is in the third quartile in “willing to take risks.”

Similarly, C-Span (2021) puts Trump last of all presidents in the category of moral authority and administrative skills. He is in the bottom of the fourth quartile as are Pierce, Johnson and Buchanan in all categories (crisis leadership, economic management, international relationship and relations with congress) with the notable exception of public persuasion, where he is the ranked in the third quartile.

His continual stream of lies did not go unnoticed by the scholars. Getting the lowest ranking of any president in integrity (Siena) and moral authority (C-Span) reflect this. Donald Trump was never very interested in the truth, as his narratives were generally built on a stack of lies.

Being ranked lowest in “background” is pretty bad, but I believe accurate, as he never held office prior to being president.

The president is elected to do what is best for the country and not himself. This is part of the moral authority that great presidents have displayed. The January 6 committee will have public hearings in the spring, and will, I am certain, show Donald Trump had total disregard for the constraints of presidential power in his attempt to alter the outcome of the 2020 election. It is unprecedented in American history.

So what is this quality missing from these surveys? I guess it is “humility and respect” which Trump was not. He was arrogant and disrespectful of the system.

Stay tuned,



Wikipedia: Historical Ranking of US Presidents

Siena College US President Study Historical Ranking

Covid-19 Personal Experiences

I thought 2 doses and a booster would protect me from getting Covid. I haven’t gotten Covid but I’ve recently had a very close calls. Four good friends of mine were vaccinated and all got Covid-19 in January. Three of them were at a family reunion with me. The good news is all of my friends recovered quickly and did not need to go to the hospital.

But, it was scary. Trump commented that Covid vaccines work because they keep you out of the hospital. Well, in general. One of my friends said she was having trouble breathing. She has two young children to take care which were unvaccinated. I tried to help her by preparing food for her and her kids. She improved greatly after 3 days of bed rest.

Lots of health related issues can make a mild case go to a severe one. Respiratory diseases like emphysema and asthma are obvious issues. Diabetes and obesity also put people in the high risk category. The list of risk factors is long.

Tests are free in the US, but not in many countries. So, I believe the current level of Covid cases outside the US is very under reported.

People want to travel to visit with family and friends. I think when staying in someone’s house, it is not an impolite question to ask if they have been vaccinated. Also, it is very understandable why we need Covid tests for international flights in and out of the US.

Your first line of defense is to be vaccinate. You are much more protected if everyone you contact is also vaccinated. Still, nothing is full proof with this disease.

Stay safe,