The Commercial Cyber War has Begun
Washington, DC, May 23rd, 2008 -- The emphasis is Washington is on the threats to Utilities, Critical Infrastructure and of course the Military. Billions are being earmarked to fight a potential Cyber War at some point in the near future. Many believe the first military probing attacks have already begun. The thinking is along the lines of traditional Kinetic Warfare, which makes Generals happy in developing War Games, and makes the Defense Industry happy because it can produce armaments as it has for hundreds of years. Warehouses full of shining missiles, guns, swords and ships. Build them for they will surely come.
The vision is that the Chinese will unleash a brutal attack on US Satellites and the Command, Control and Communications Infrastructure of the US military, depriving the legions of sedentary Pentagon Generals from playing with their new toys, such as missile carrying remote UAV's. Then what will these 10 foot Chinese Cyber Warriors do??
At the same time the organized crime syndicates are quietly penetrating every personal and business computer to capture bank account numbers, personal details, credit card numbers and a vast database to steal unimaginable amounts of cash and wealth silently, and without the knowledge of unsuspecting computer users. They have long gone past the days of the destructive virus, designed to crash as many computer systems as it could for teenage bragging rights. For the crime bosses have realized that instead of breaking into the house through the back door, and crashing through every room smashing the contents, it is far more productive to quietly steal the money, electronic account numbers, passwords and make the household slaves in a global crime ring. From the day they entered the property they can call upon them to participate in crimes, when they command their cyber slaves.
The military dreamers may believe the Chinese may want to attack the USS Ronald Reagan in Cyberspace. Why?
Why not attack the people who supply, build, maintain and pay for this and other Carriers. A penniless crippled infrastructure can't support a big military machine. But again why? China supplies most of the consumable goods seen on the shelves of US stores. Why cripple your best customer. But the military hawks need more games to play, and more money to play with.
Russia on the other hand, and many in countries that really do not like the United States would like to see the Big Bully down and crying that the bank account is empty.
So one would imagine the government is pushing ahead at full speed to protect the individual, and the corporate world relying on the cyber communications and commerce for their very existence. But it's not that simple. To do something about the up to 30,000,000 cyber slaves doing the dirty work of cyber criminals would take a lot of planning, communication and strategy. It would also take the active cooperation of a lethargic nation who would sooner have another Late Grande with Cinnamon and Mocha flecks than admit they are being used and abused.
The military on the other hand can be given billions in Top Secret contracts, and stage an occasional made-for-TV trial to show they are ready for the challenge, with additional funds of course. Where and how these funds go, and what they provide is of course Top Secret. In the meantime another 10,000,000 cyber slaves are made ready for the wishes of the Bot Herders, the new Cyber Godfathers.
Today it is possible to claim back all, or most cash lost through credit card fraud, as a result of stealing passwords and account numbers. In the not so distant future the credit card companies will start to embrace the new strategy being put about by George Bush, that of being the Ownership Society. That means you have to be responsible and "Own" your actions, and transactions, such as getting a mortgage you couldn't afford, buying a car you can't afford, and before long allowing someone to access your computer and steal your personal data.
The rationale is that nobody asked you to splash your personal details on My Space, then sit on a vulnerable broadband connection without adequate protection. If you don't practice "Safe Computing" you may get more than you expected.
The sheer volume of thefts from electronic commerce vendors will soon reach a critical mass where they just can't afford to credit you, either a corporation or an individual, for your lack of security. Then what?
Most Americans will go and get another Starbucks Coffee and demand the government do something. They will, and debate giving the military and the Department of Homeland Security more billions to build bigger and more secret installations without oversight, or performance metrics. You will have a whacking great bill to pay, and an overpriced coffee, which by the way you need cash to pay for, because your Visa is over the limit from the shopping spree in the Ukraine.
Imagine 10,000,000 credit cards being emptied at once, and the chaos that that would cause, especially if the credit card companies halted transactions whilst they sorted out the mess. Far more damage to the nation than messing about with the datalink for orders for paint, oil and supplies on the USS Ronald Reagan.
And the interesting thing is that this commercial war has been building for years, and few really care, for it will happen to someone else, and I will get my money back. I wonder how much Kiddy Porn your computer has sent out this week? Or how many scams you have been part of, where your computer left an electronic audit trail back to you. You could claim you had no control over your computer and it did it all by itself, but a jury will find it hard to believe, for they too are lethargic and prefer their Late Grand instead of facing the reality of life in a dangerous and hostile new world. Anyway our President and Commander in Chief has declared that we live in an Ownership Society and should take responsibility for our, and our computer's actions.
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