Hacking is a two-way street.

Usually we hear of attacks being launched against American websites from outside the country. But the opposite is true as well.

In recent days there have been reports that attacks were launched against Iranian computer networks that support that country’s air bases, likely in response to the June 20th attack by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard  Corps on a U.S. military drone in the Persian Gulf.

And now there are reports that hackers working for an alliance of intelligence agencies broke into Yandex, the large Russian-based search engine, in an attempt to find technical information that reveals how Yandex authenticates user accounts.  The hackers used Regin (QWERTY), a malware toolkit associated with intelligence sharing that has often been utilized by the intelligence alliance (made up of the USA, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand).

Interestingly, Yandex acknowledges the hack, which happened back in 2018. But whereas it claims the attack was detected by the company’s security team before any damage could be done or data lost, outside observers believe that the hackers were able to maintain their access to Yandex for several weeks or longer before being detected.

Reportedly, the information being sought could help spy agencies impersonate Yandex users, thereby gaining access to their private messages. The purpose?  To focus on espionage rather than the theft of intellectual property.

These actions, which are coming to light only now even though the events in question happened last year, underscore how much much future “warfare” between nations will be conducted in cyberspace rather than via boots on the ground.

Welcome to Cold War II — 21st century style.

A surprising development? America is now the world’s largest oil supplier.

number-1For those of us who came of age during the oil embargo of 1973 and the subsequent decades of high-priced, restricted-supply petroleum coupled with a contorted foreign policy continuously buffeted by those economic realities … the recent news that the United States is poised to become the world’s top oil supplier in 2013 comes as a bit of a surprise.

But it’s right there in black-and-white, in data published by PIRA Energy Group, a New York-based energy markets consulting firm:

  • This year, the United States is projected to produce an average of ~12 million barrels per day of liquid oil products (crude oil, natural gas liquids and biofuels together).
  • That’s ~300,000 barrels per day higher than Saudi Arabia … and ~1.6 million more than Russia.
  • The other countries that make up the “Big Ten” oil producers – China, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Mexico – don’t even come close to the “Big Three.”

Where’s Venezuela on the list?  Nowhere to be found.

Take that, Carlos Chávez and Nicolás Maduro!

The United States is forecast to pump approximately 7.5 million barrels per day of crude and concentrate in 2013.  That’s actually 3 million barrels less than Saudi Arabia and Russia.

But the shortfall is more than made up by the ~2.5 million in natural gas liquids and ~1 million of biofuels America is also producing every day.

The rise in U.S. production is practically unprecedented.  Only once before has a country raised its production faster (Saudi Arabia in 1970-74).

The reason for the rise in American production?  Two words:  “shale oil.”

USA Shale Gas Exploration ZonesU.S. shale oil and condensate production now stands at ~2.5 million barrels per day.  That’s slightly over one-third of total U.S. crude production.

And shale natural gas liquid production, at ~1.2 million barrels per day, is nearly half of total NGL production.

America’s shale oil boom could turn out to be of far greater import than all of the renewable or “alternative energy” schemes put together – despite the political attention and funding these more “sexy” technologies have had lavished on them by federal and state governments and research foundations.

Abetted by the explorationof shale oil formations via horizontal drilling and fracking, the impact of shale oil reserves isn’t a flash in the pan, either.  According to PIRA Energy, America’s position as the largest oil supplier in the world looks to be secure for many years.

Production growth rates may level off eventually, but PIRA forecasts that the United States will continue to increase its lead over Saudi Arabia and Russia until 2020 at least.

… And retain its production lead over all other countries until at least 2030.

What a relief all of this is.  Speaking for myself, I’m loving the fact that America is no longer so beholden to offshore energy resources controlled by people who “might” be our friends one day … and who “might” not be the next.

It’s like financial debt:  Having too much debt is really bad.  Having no debt at all is really nice.

Energy independence — or something close to it — is really nice, too.