Cyber Terrorism, or Just Plain Crime?
Washington, DC, Jun. 14th, 2008 -- I attended an interesting Workshop on Cyber terrorism and Cyber threats at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The Speaker was Roger Cumming, the deputy chief of the UK's Cyber Threat Office, or what ever it is called this week.
Roger addressed a room full of sour faced Washington Doom Merchants convinced that the Reds under the Bed now all have Laptops. The Russians have been replaced by Chinese, determined to crash their way through the Pentagon Firewalls and see how badly the War in Iraq and Afghanistan is going. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese soldiers are searching for Cheney's and Bush's military records to learn from their vast experience.
Roger did bring up a glimmer of reality into the Washington Paranoia that intrusion into computers on the public Internet isn't terrorism, just nuisance. It is a crime directed against the financial and corporate world, and against the people. It is not the domain of the Air Force, who tend to get involved in far too much "Friendly Fire" incidents to meet the job descriptions needed to protect American industry and it's population. Having Dr Lani Strangelove Carpet bombing Wall Street to punish the Arabs holding up the US economy may seem a good idea for the grounded Colonels, but it is too big a price to pay for lax Pentagon cyber security.
My sarcasm is directed at the fact that the main focus of the effort to contain this global crime phenomenon is to allocate tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to the Military-Industrial Complex and create more layers of Top Secret, and unregulated intrusive monitoring of the civilian population. The poor taxpayer who has his credit card hacked, his credit ruined and his life disrupted can go and pound sand, it's all about military might. Of course the Russian/Israeli Mob is reaping billions for their organized crime efforts, and don't give a hoot about hacking the Pentagon.
The problem is that the poor smart kid in Brazil can learn how to steal from the rich spoilt Gringo and pay for the food for his family, even the entire village without leaving his home. The Internet has leveled the global playing field for global financial crime, and the rich sophisticated countries have most to lose. What hasn't dawned on the Pentagon Hawks is that we have entered a new Age of Warfare, laid out by the Chinese in their Asymmetric Warfare document. Strutting around a Top Secret multi billion dollar War Room just doesn't cut it any more. The Generals look like Clowns in fancy dress. Turning up to meetings wearing Flight Suits, with patches proclaiming you are a pilot in the Cyber Command is also ridiculous and worthy of joining the clowns at Cirque de Soleil.
We need to get realistic and pull together everyone and create a public, non-classified and rapid response resource to protect the nations computers and communications from criminal attack. The failed energy policies of Bush/Cheney will facilitate more people to work from home, and make the commercial networks even more vulnerable, and the job of cyber security personnel a nightmare.
Terrorists prefer Ammonium Nitrate to bits and bytes, for the technology is easier to learn, and has a more devastating public effect. Crashing Windows is so commonplace that it is Standard Operating Procedure for anyone having to use the flawed technology of the PC. Maybe Bill Gates should be labelled the Osama bin Laden of Cyber Terrorism.
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