Hollywood thinks that computers run on black magic and hackers are wizards. In movies, computers can blow up houses, shut down highways, release plagues and make Matthew Lillard appealing to women. However, our collective groaning about how laughably unrealistic these movies are may have been premature, because sometimes the real world of digital mayhem comes very close to sounding like the plot description of Swordfish 2: Travoltuna.
6A Logic Bomb Detonates Siberia
Remember how loud you shouted "bullshit" when the hackers in Live Free or Die Hard used their computer wizardry to ignite a bunch of natural gas pipelines? We do, too. Well, tuck your napkins into your collars and get ready to eat some exploding crow, because it turns out that that actually happened ... in 1982, six years before the Die Hard franchise was even a thing.
You see, the CIA under the Reagan administration found out that the KGB had been stealing technology from the West for years. In response, the CIA decided to feed the KGB a big, fat booby trap in what may be one of the first uses of a Trojan virus. They more or less had a list of things they knew the KGB was going to steal, so they added a special item to the mix: a piece of software used to help regulate gas pipelines. The CIA then dropped a "logic bomb" in the software and waited, trying not to laugh.
"Send a thousand large pizzas to Kamchatka. It'll be hilarious."
A logic bomb essentially makes a program switch to a different mode after running several million cycles (changing its "logic"). The pipeline software's logic bomb was set to go off after 10 million cycles. The KGB thieves weren't stupid -- they checked the stuff they were stealing -- but since the software appeared to be working fine, they brought it back to a pipeline in Siberia that extended into Western Europe, singing songs of their good fortune.
The program ran fine for a few months (the aforementioned 10 million cycles), but after that, it took the pipeline's pumps and compressors aside and told them, "Today is the day that we run a pressure test at dangerously high levels." After careful calculations, the CIA expected the pipeline to merely spring leaks all the way across Siberia. Clearly, they overestimated Soviet engineering.
"In Soviet Russia, pipes leak on YOU -- because of CIA meddling. Seriously."
In June 1982, American early warning satellites detected an extremely large blast in Siberia as the pipeline motherfucking exploded. The blast was 3 kilotons, or roughly one-fifth of the strength of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It was "the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space," a phrase that here means "the most brain-shittingly awesome spectacle ever witnessed by the endless folds of the universe."