Pushing Cyberwar Moral Panic Apparently Quite Profitable For Booz Allen

from the spreading-fear-for-money dept

A few months ago, people began questioning the difference between reality and rhetoric when it came to the "threat" of "cyberwar." Many of the claims were clearly exaggerated with people purposely confusing script kiddies doing basic vandalism with some sort of organized "war" or threat. One of the folks, who has been given the most attention for playing up this threat, is former director of national intelligence, Michael McConnell, who just happens to have scored a job as a top exec at Booz Allen. So it seems worth noting that Booz Allen has racked up over $400 million in gov't contracts in just the past few weeks. Of course, most of the press that McConnell has been able to get about this issue plays up his former gov't role, but plays down the fact that his new job seems to be scaring the gov't into shoveling truckloads of cash to Booz Allen, no matter how serious the "threat" really is.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, May 19th, 2010 @ 3:21am

    Where's there "war", there's profits.

    Let's see, what's the name of that economic system where gov't and corporations cooperate and conspire to enslave the people, always with an outside threat to frighten the people into going along with loss of liberty? ... Oh, yes. FASCISM.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 3:54am

    well, there's a whole dept in china just to hack into us and other countries computer networks, call it fear mongering, but that sounds like a real war to me

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:01am

    "Of course, most of the press, that McConnell has been able to get about this issue, plays up his former gov't role, but plays down the fact that his new job seems to be scaring the gov't into shoveling truckloads of cash to Booz Allen, no matter how serious the "threat" really is."

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comma

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:45am

    Re:

    Smaller reader response = Greater opportunity for pinhead Grammar Nazis!

     

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  5.  
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    abc gum, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:50am

    Re:

    A whole department?
    Scary stuff there.
    Where do I donate to this protection racket?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    Doh! - silly me, and I thought everyone did this sort of thing.

     

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  7.  
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    Thomas Bodetti (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 6:10am

    Imagine that and I thought link lock was the deal, hmmm

    sounds like a joke but in reality yes, what a mess, you just have to wonder what they were thinking...

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    NullOp, May 19th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    Threat

    The real threat comes from America's liberal media. I have yet to figure out why the government hasn't arrested all the media people and thrown them in a gulag for all the BS and lies they produce!

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    ah the cyberwar, howmany dead now...

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    remind me again how this is different from running webinars on 'security in the cloud' and 'legal things for ip professionals'. if anything, it sounds like you are trying to head down this road yourself, albeit in a slightly less governmental fashion.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    hey, it worked for Al Gore!

     

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  12.  
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    Sneeje (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    Really? That's all you've got?

    They're not even remotely the same thing. Among many other things, I'm currently involved in advising the government on use of the "cloud" (especially helping them understand how empty that word really is). One fundamental barrier for government is how to adapt FISMA/NIST to that type of computing. The idea of two different organization with applications of different classifications *running on the same hardware* and accessible by the same staff is a huge barrier.

    How is helping organizations (govt or otherwise) understand the security implications of an architectural approach "fear-mongering"?

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:02am

    Re: Threat

    Damn, what are you, a communist conservative? Only communists would set up "gulags", man. Haven't read anything about "re-education camps" of the USSR and China?

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re: Re:

    no, but jumping up and suddenly running webinars is sort of another horrible attempt to jump in front of a bandwagon and claim it as his own.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:43am

    Re:

    A whole department? That's rich...

    ONE guy is all it takes to write a worm that brings entire systems to their knees.

    Take a look at the history of viruses and worms. You didn't need a special department in to write very successful viruses.

     

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  16.  
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    MB, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:50am

    While Booz Allen may be exploiting cyberwar panic for their own gain, that certainly does not make cyberwar any less of a threat. Whether they make money on it or not, the threat is still there and it is so much bigger than most people realize. One reason we don't hear about all the attacks on U.S. government and military institutions is because they don't necessarily want to draw attention to their own activities.

    Much of what we hear about in the press is script-kiddie stuff but ask yourself, if some amateur can cause such disruption, or infect hundreds of thousands of computers in a few days, what could a well-funded and well-trained foreign government organization operating without fear of being arrested accomplish?

    While the term cyberwar does somewhat convey the wrong idea, nevertheless we face a number of threats. The Cold War wasn't a war to most of us either, but it was quite real to some organizations.

    It is easy to use fear mongering to get your point across, but that doesn't invalidate the point. We use fear mongering when arguing our cases on climate change, oil drilling, public health threats, net neutrality, etc. Even my mechanic uses it. Let's face it, quite a bit of what we spend money on is because something scares us.

    As experts we use fear mongering because we understand the consequences, and the best way to get the non-expert to act is to scare the hell out of them. It certainly is abuse when someone misleads another or is dishonest for their own profit, but I don't see much evidence presented here that Booz Allen did any of that. Sure, some journalists have little to write about other than script kiddie stuff, but that doesn't mean the threat doesn't exist and that the really scary stuff isn't happening every day.

    I need to spend $600 this week to prevent further damage to my car's engine, and I suspect my mechanic is trying to milk me for more cash. But $400 million is hardly enough to make me feel more secure about our technical infrastructure.

     

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  17.  
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    Fletcher, May 19th, 2010 @ 8:59am

    Military Industrial Complexity

    I don't know about the other branches of the US military, but I know the Air Force is pushing this cyberwar idea hard. The mission statement is now "Fly, fight, and win in air, space, and cyberspace," and they just remonikered 3000+ comminications officers to cyber officers.

    With the military so strongly supporting the rhetoric, I think the cyberwar's overall economic impact will grow substantially.

     

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  18.  
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    Freedom, May 19th, 2010 @ 10:03am

    Script Kiddies

    I always get a kick out of the 'script kiddies' term.

    For one, it applies that it is just a dumb-a** running a program. While this is probably accurate, 99% of the anything we are really worried about will be carried out by non-technical people using tools created by highly talent hackers.

    In short, the hacking tools that are in the open are just tools, just because right now young people use them to 'play', doesn't mean that organized crime, terrorists types and so on can't use the same tools. I guess that would then be 'script terrorists' ???

    Freedom

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re:

    If it's a real war where are all the dead?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 11:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What can you claim, other than being the Masnick Sidekick?

     

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  21.  
    icon
    chris (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    Re:

    that certainly does not make cyberwar any less of a threat. Whether they make money on it or not, the threat is still there and it is so much bigger than most people realize.

    sure, Advanced Persistent Threats are real, but they are real in the sense that al qaeda is real... out there somewhere not having much effect on anyone not directly associated with the military.

    as for cyberwar, it's pretty much like nuclear war... possible but highly unlikely.

    now, for espionage and organized crime, this is not some threat that materialized from the internet itself, it's simply a matter of spies and criminals taking their acts online.

    if you want to point a finger at someone, how about the governments that imprisoned hackers in the early to mid 90's? the big crackdowns then (operation sundevil and the like) resulted in a spike in crimes like identity theft in the late 90's as hackers entered the prison system and came into contact with real criminals. max "iceman" butler is a good example.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 19th, 2010 @ 2:53pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Seems to me like you're fear-mongering against webinars!

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 4:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no, just pointing out the foolishness of getting grand technical advice from a guy who still cant get the mobile detection to work properly on his own website.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2010 @ 7:40pm

    Granted the script-kiddies are easier to deal with, the damage be done on their act can potentially be more damaging than cyber-terrorists.

    Consider those high-speed computers and network we now have, it's not impossible for script-kiddies to make use of some form of botnets to attempt to bring down the computer/server of someone he/she don't like, only to find out he/she also bring down a few adjacent routers near by as a side effect, and caused DOS to users/servers those routers served.

    Now, at least hopefully those vital facilities' security are hardened...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Yosi, May 20th, 2010 @ 2:11am

    Cyber war is real

    It's just that "cyber" isn't synonymous to "on the Internet". Government agencies uses all kinds of electronic communications, which can be intercepted, forged or disrupted. And some malfunction of above-mentioned communications can lead to truly disastrous results, including massive life loss.
    Yes, some kid vandalizing CNN frontpage doesn't posses any real threat, but hacking into air-traffic control surely does.

     

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  26.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 21st, 2010 @ 12:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Seems to me like you're fear-mongering against guys!

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 6:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Never had a problem with techdirt figuring out I'm on a mobile device. I'd suggest lookin' into some more decent hardware there.

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 6:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    N I gotz me sum of the shittiest out of date hardware going.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 6:36pm

    Re:

    Good point. Look what yesterdays DDOS against the anti-spam outfit did to the internet. Why hasn't techdirt ran something on that?

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Military Industrial Complexity

    It seems to me too much time and money is being spent on crap like this, patent trolling, copyright maximalizing, and other things. What a drain on a crumbling world economy.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 27th, 2013 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Script Kiddies

    You don't think they already are?

     

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