The White House National Security Council Document ” The Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative” states: President Obama has identified cybersecurity as one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation, but one that we as a government or as a country are not adequately prepared to counter. Shortly after taking office, the President therefore ordered a thorough review of federal efforts to defend the U.S. information and communications infrastructure and the development of a comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure.
In May 2009, the President accepted the recommendations of the resulting Cyberspace Policy Review, including the selection of an Executive Branch Cybersecurity Coordinator who will have regular access to the President. The Executive Branch was also directed to work closely with all key players in U.S. cybersecurity, including state and local governments and the private sector, to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents; strengthen public/private partnerships to find technology solutions that ensure U.S. security and prosperity; invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery to meet the digital challenges of our time; and begin a campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy from our boardrooms to our classrooms and begin to build the digital workforce of the 21st century. Finally, the President directed that these activities be conducted in a way that is consistent with ensuring the privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and cherished by all Americans.”
Is this really possible? To guarantee the privacy rights and civil liberties whilst watching out for threats from terrorist groups, extremist individuals? And how, amongst all these millions of (mostly decent, honest, law abiding) people, do you identify and isolate those who pose a real threat to liberty?
It may be like looking for a needle in a haystack but it seems that beefing up the staff from 900 to 4000 and investing heavily in cyber-technologies, has given the Government the ability to churn through hundreds of haystacks, billions of emails and websites effortlessly. I’m curious, how can this be done whilst “ensuring the privacy rights and civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution”?
If the Gov’t can demonstrate, prove the effectiveness of such measures, then we have nothing to fear. After all, the last thing we want is the government wasting billions of taxpayers money on discovering how much time is totally wasted on pointless, mediocre, occasionally paranoid prattle while the real terrorists quietly go about their business of meeting in back rooms, kitchens using nothing but paper and pen to make their plans and share information; taking their time in gathering their materials, planning their insane actions.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the hactivist activity is being allowed because it provides a healthy environment within which these new government technologies can cut their teeth, tracking back through switches, routers, proxies to MAC addresses on the network cards and devices where those naughty hacks originated. And meanwhile hackers smugly rub their hands with glee at the latest liberated commandered corporate or government website. Such acts are harmless showmanship in the bigger scheme of things. People are free to think what they like, it makes no difference. Petitions aside, on-line rants and protest are just another pastime The real threat is, and always will be, direct action; and the State sorted that one out a long time ago, The second amendment is even less of a threat in this regard.
Nations and corporations do use cyber tools to attack their threats and competition. And while governments and cyber security firms talk in billions when building up their covert, pre-emptive or counter-attacks and defences, it is ordinary people like us who have only straw with which to build our houses. And it’ll only take a simple blow to take it down and remove what little liberty we have.