The Ghost (Threat) in the Machine

Tate’s too polite to mention it, but in his professional capacity he has an op-ed with Jerry Brito in the Christian Science Monitor. They argue that the current regulatory bugaboo around internet security is a waste of mental bandwidth. I see it as self-serving rent-seeking by an outside consultant.

Bush administration cybersecurity chief Michael McConnell recently warned that the United States “is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.”

According to McConnell, now a vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton, “our power grids, air and ground transportation, telecommunications, and water-filtration systems are in jeopardy.” More recently, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D) and Olympia Snowe (R) wrote about “sophisticated cyber adversaries” with the potential “to disrupt or disable vital information networks, which could cause catastrophic economic loss and social havoc.”

Yet none of the prognosticators of disaster presents any evidence to sustain their claims. They mention the Google breach, but that was an act of espionage that, while serious, did not lead to catastrophe. (Ed. – emphasis mine.)

They provide a massive grain of salt for such breathless chicken-little-ing.

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3 Responses to The Ghost (Threat) in the Machine

  1. Thomas says:

    Sorry Aaron, lots of big words in this one. You lost me at “Tate”. Which is unfortunate because that was the first word.

  2. I agree we’re fighting a cyber-war right now that we’re losing. China’s the largest threat at the moment.

    I’m not expert so I won’t cite any statistics or anything, but I also agree that the lack of demonstrated evidence is irresponsible.

    A little Google-researching and you’ll notice that the number of commercial network breaches has dramatically increased over the past few years. Professional groups of hackers are becoming more organized and efficient. The US has a large infrastructure protected by encryption algorithms based largely on a very high “Time to Crack.” More sophisticated algorithms combined with better floating-point computing (read: GPGPU) have reduced this “Time to Crack” and really weakened our primary defenses in an area where finding the back door has traditionally yielded the best results.

    But yeah if you’re advertising the end of the world in 2012 with nothing more than a movie script you’re not going to set off any alarms.

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