Senators Ramp Up Fear Mongering To Try To Rush Through Cybersecurity Bill

from the and-of-course dept

We're still waiting for any actual evidence that this new cybersecurity bill is really necessary. An actual description of the real problem being dealt with would be a good start. Instead, we just get pure fear mongering. While some Senators are asking supporters of the bill to slow down and carefully consider the issue, the bill's backers, led by Senator Lieberman seem to be on "full speed ahead" mode -- trying to skip hearings and markups to take the bill straight to the Senate floor for a vote.

In this case, Senator John McCain is urging caution, and pushing back at claims that because totally different cybersecurity bills have been introduced in the past, this one can be rushed:
To suggest that this bill should move directly to the Senate Floor because it has ‘been around’ since 2009 is outrageous," McCain said. "First, the bill was introduced two days ago. Secondly, where do Senate Rules state that a bill’s progress in a previous congress can supplant the necessary work on that bill in the present one?"
Of course, it isn't that McCain is "the voice of reason" here. He's actually pushing for a different bill that will give NSA broad spying powers over the internet. The dispute between McCain and Lieberman is really a long-running territorial dispute -- concerning whether Homeland Security or the Defense Department get to control the "cybersecurity" budget. The Lieberman bill gives the power to Homeland Security. McCain wants to give it to the DoD. Neither seem to want to bother with evidence of the actual need here.

Of course, backers of the bill are falling back on their typical doomsday scenarios to explain why they have to rush and avoid any sort of discussion or evidence:
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned the committee there could be grave consequences if Congress does not act to protect cybersecurity.

"Think about how many people could die if a cyber terrorist attacked our air traffic control system and planes slammed into one another," Rockefeller said. "Or if rail switching networks were hacked—causing trains carrying people—or hazardous materials—to derail and collide in the midst of some of our most populated urban areas, like Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Washington."
Yes, and think about how life would suck if someone hacked the road system in West Virginia and turned all roads into cabbage patches? I mean, if we're talking about total hypotheticals with no actual likelihood of happening, that seems just as reasonable a scenario as Rockefeller's. It's pure, insane, unsupported hypothetical fear mongering. Is our air traffic system connected to the internet? I sure hope not. If it is, that's the problem -- not the lack of some cybersecurity bill. We've seen no evidence that the air traffic or rail switching are subject to attack, so creating Hollywood-style scenarios is pretty ridiculous. Is Rockefeller honestly suggesting that the folks who run these systems aren't doing everything they can to secure those systems and that there would be any significant differences if this cybersecurity bill is passed? Somehow I don't think the folks who maintain our air traffic control system are sitting around thinking there's nothing they can do until a cybersecurity bill is in place.

So how about we take a step back, and rather than passing a broad bill based on fear mongering, folks like Rockefeller and Feinstein (hell, or even McCain) produce some actual evidence of a threat? Or is that too hard?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:07am

    They are pushing the Cyber security bill through as hard and fast as they can. I am wondering if they moved all the SOPA-PIPA stuff into it.

     

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:18am

      Re:

      I am wondering if they moved all the SOPA-PIPA stuff into it.

      They didn't. In fact, they're bending over backwards to make it clear that this is totally unrelated to SOPA-PIPA. And while there are reasons to distrust them, on this they're being truthful.

       

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        monkyyy, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re:

        are u sure that the worse of sopa isnt hidden by reading the first letter of every paragraph? i can see *iaa trying it once

         

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        Hephaestus (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:44am

        Re: Re:

        Ever since nancy pelosi's "pass the health care bill so you can find out whats in it" I have been seriously suspicious every time a politician try's to rush a bill through. We really need to have a way more open method of law making.

        The next question is which of the defense contractors Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, or Solera is pushing this forward? It would actually be interesting to see who bought this law.

         

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      el_segfaulto (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:03am

      Re:

      It really seems like these twits watch too many Hollywood movies. Using Rockefeller's example, it would be easier for a gangly nerd and a stereotypically badass black-American to take down an alien mothership using a Macbook than it would for hackers to get into an isolated network such as an air traffic control system.

      It is truly pathetic that we have people completely ignorant of the technologies that they are seeking to control. The fact that they are using the boogeyman of teh terrorists to push it through should be all the proof the average American needs to vote these octogenarians out of office.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:05am

        Re: Re:

        Imagine that - Hollywood causes even more bad legislature to be written/passed, even when they're not trying.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:16am

        Re: Re:

        It's not the people that's the problem, it's the system. As long as big content industries are allowed to buy politicians, this shit will happen. And it's becoming more often, but they're doing such a good job at making you think it's normal that you think it is, when in fact it's not, it should have never been and should never be. Disinformation FTW.

         

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      geoffrey, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:54am

      Re: SOPA

      you got that right. standard m o. The net will slowly go down. the boiling frog scenario.

       

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    Someantimalwareguy (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:27am

    Medication needed!

    While it is true that there is an epidemic of over prescribed medication in this country, there ARE those who legitimately require these medications from time to time...

    Rockefeller, Feinstein, Napolitano, McCain, and especially Lieberman need some serious therapy and medication to help them get through this period of panic they seem to be stuck in. Seriously, they need to sit down, relax a little, and STFU...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:42am

    So you are going to ramp up the fear mongering to try to slow them down?

    What, 10 posts a day on this now, all without being a lobbyist?

    Hmmm!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:50am

      Re:

      5/10
      Hmmm?

       

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      Torg (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:51am

      Re:

      Whether or not it's physically possible to hack into the systems mentioned is a legitimate point. It's entirely possible that the people pushing this bill really think that anything with a chip in it can be hacked and actually believe the scenarios proposed, but that doesn't mean they're right.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:04am

      Re:

      Yes...Whatever it takes to keep up with Hollywood's barrage of "scary movies" that these senators seem to be watching as if they're documentaries about the future.

       

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      el_segfaulto (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      Wrong. Fear-mongering would sound like: "If we push this bill through, the terrorists would use it to Americans all while continuing their agenda to create child pornography while with the homosexuals in their dastardly agenda."

      Madlibs pwn3d!

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re:

        Fear-mongering would sound like: "If we push this bill through, the censorship regime would continue to limit our ability to pirate stuff."

        FTFY

         

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          el_segfaulto (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Retranslate: I'm a pretentious member of a legacy industry that will soon dry up and return the duty of making art to the actual artists.

          FTFY

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:30am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Haha. FAIL! You have no idea.

             

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              William Chambers, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Yes, because 'FAIL' is such an intelligent and stirring response. I had no idea you had such a powerful argument.

               

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              el_segfaulto (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Responding to someone, such as yourself, with reason, tact, and a well-thought-out argument would be an exercise in futility and to be perfectly frank you're not worth my time. I figured making you aware of your industry's very real mortality would be more scathing than anything else.

               

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              Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 10:11am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Haha. FAIL! You have no idea.

              You have no argument, so who really fails here?

               

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          silverscarcat (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:34am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Fear-mongering would sound like: "If we don't push this bill through, it would give Iran and China even more power than before."

          FTFY

           

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      William Chambers, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:40am

      Re:

      You have failed. Please try harder next time.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:47am

      Re:

      dude, you keep count? Why? Why would anybody devote their time on keeping score on a website they clearly hate? I know you've said you have no stake in the copyright cartels, but then why practically make it your job to post here? That is not normal, you clearly have a very big psychological problem. This obsession you have with Mike, Hollywood's profits, and copyright law that you say you have no financial or ideological connection with, is a troubling sign of mental illness.
      I really hope you visit a good psychologist soon, do you have insurance or maybe disability?

       

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    blaktron (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 7:50am

    I'm pretty sure...

    .. the most egregious threat to air traffic safety is putting the TSA in charge of it.

     

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      Machin Shin (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:23am

      Re: I'm pretty sure...

      Hey now, lets not pick on the Transport Sex Assessment. They are keeping us safe from all those evil people who put down the wrong sex when filling out forms.

      Its a rough job but someones got to grab your junk to make sure you really are what you say you are!

       

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    Tim K (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Isn't that the same 'logic' they used with SOPA/PIPA? 'We need to pass this now, lives are being destroyed every day without this'.

     

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    TDR, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:01am

    Any bill supported by someone named Rockefeller is not to be trusted. That family has too much bad history in it.

     

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    Trails (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    But think of the cabbage

    "Yes, and think about how life would suck if someone hacked the road system in West Virginia and turned all roads into cabbage patches?"

    Mike, stop giving ideas to our enemies. This cyber-cabbageocalypse will kill us all!

    You'll be making snide remarks out of the other side of your head when a trojan-infested road savoy is gnawing on your innards, or when the leaf heads march on the capitol building.

    "Don't worry," you say. "They're rich in vitamins C and K!" But did you also know cabbages are rich in vitamin D? Not the secosteroids, but D as in DEATH?!?! That's right, VITAMIN DEATH!!! They have it, and they're coming for us all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:10am

    I'm wondering how many stupid censorship/blacklist bills will have to be introduced before you realize your entire political system is flawed and needs to be revamped for the 21st century. Living in the 1800's is not helping anyone.

     

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    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:12am

    Follow the Money

    What company(ies) benefit from Liebermans bill?

    What company(ies) benefit from McCains bill?

    If we could find these answers we would know why the rush is on, and why there is competition for control between DHS and DoD.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    why is it that most governments but the US in particular, are hell bent on introducing more and more bills/laws that give them the power to listen into/spy on it's citizens? it just seems as if it's going back to the 'everyone is a communist' days when McCarthy ruled, but the accusation has changed to either terrorism or copyright infringement

     

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    Jay (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    Follow the money Lebowski

    So how about we take a step back, and rather than passing a broad bill based on fear mongering, folks like Rockefeller and Feinstein (hell, or even McCain) produce some actual evidence of a threat?

    The problem here is who wants to get paid for fear mongering. I'm kind of glad that there's two different versions of this bill. Since the two are going to be fighting about this, at least it won't become a huge concern. What's really going to scare me is when both parties put through a big bill where neither party is responsible for anything but they get all the monitoring powers is when I begin to worry.

     

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    Un (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 8:46am

    As Joe Biden once said, "I use the Google"

    I think we're looking at a solid decade before we've got anyone on the Hill that actually has the most remote knowledge to accurately discredit cyber security fiction.

    We are the terrorists. Americans are the biggest threat to the American government, and the government is getting damn scared of us. With elections so polar and nearly equally divided, we actually are a fairly scary bunch. Look at the hate toward Obama and Santorum, add media zombification to that and any government would want monitoring to know how we're reacting to their policies.

     

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      Call me Al, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:05am

      Re: As Joe Biden once said, "I use the Google"

      "We are the terrorists. Americans are the biggest threat to the American government, and the government is getting damn scared of us."

      I was thinking that recently as well, though from a UK perspective. Similar to the Gatekeepers of content, our governments are currently fearing a lack of control. People now see government interference as a systemic problem and seek to work around it where possible. A process I find kind of fascinating and which I am naively optimistic about.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:08am

        Re: Re: As Joe Biden once said, "I use the Google"

        The US has been the world's largest exporter of terrorists. That's the hypocrisy.

         

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    Overcast (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:04am

    As usual...

    Create a 'panic' and then pander for money and power to 'fix it'.

     

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    Overcast (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:05am

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned the committee there could be grave consequences if Congress does not act to protect cybersecurity.

    "Think about how many people could die if a cyber terrorist attacked our air traffic control system and planes slammed into one another," Rockefeller said. "Or if rail switching networks were hacked—causing trains carrying people—or hazardous materials—to derail and collide in the midst of some of our most populated urban areas, like Chicago, New York, San Francisco or Washington."


    HAHAHA!

    So laws 'secure' computers now?

    How dense are our politicians?

     

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      Ed C., Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:46am

      Re:

      When all you have is legislation, everything looks like a legislative issue.

      OTOH, how often do you hear someone in conversion say "well that should be illegal!" Issues that are too large or burdensome for the individual to handle is one thing, but it's usually about things that they just don't want to be bothered to deal with.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:06am

    I'm not concerned about terrorism when 45,000 people die every year due to lack of healthcare.

    Terrorism isn't much of a threat when people are more important than property.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:13am

      Re:

      Shoot, i wish i could find the link about how much money is spent on preventing terrorism vs. reducing fatal auto accidents. And the number of fatal auto accidents is much greater than the number of people who die from terrorism.

       

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    gort-o-matic (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:08am

    Nevertheless, there may be some reason for concern...

    News items pop up from time to time about vulnerabilities in the infrastructure. If true, there may be legitimate reason for concern. That does not mean that these bills are the correct solution. Reasoned methods are better than fear mongering to gain control of a portion of the national budget.

     

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    Beech, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:15am

    Challenge accepted:

    That micro nation off the coast of England... Think it's called "the kingdom of sealand"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 9:23am

    Planes crashing into one another *did* happen

    I remember that shortly before our ill-fated invasion of Sangala, that crazed Dubaku used his CTU-built hacking device to cause two planes to crash into one another! We must pass this bill to protect us from terrorists!

     

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    hothmonster, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 10:35am

    Oh no, sounds like Congress watched the latest Die-Hard last movie night.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    cybersecurity's Real Terror

    The real terror is the US Government. Where is the bill that protects the PEOPLE and the INTERNET from them? Each department is responsible to some part of the government. Where are the removals from office, People being fired. The president is responsible for some of these departments. Congress Has the power to Fix this. Congress should quit asking questions and do something. Remove the president, remove the department heads Remove the Attorney General

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 11:13am

    Help me understand

    Consider me a n00b at tech literacy.

    Also keep in mind that I am in TOTAL agreement that these people are nuts and should shut up.

    That being said, surely the air systems are on the internet, I mean, they probably have a vpn or something, but in theory if they're using computers that connect they're on the internet and could be infiltrated right? Help me understand why this is wrong thinking- I'd like to know.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 11:28am

      Re: Help me understand

      For instance a nuclear power plant has an internal network that does not connect to the outside world. You can not hack into a nuclear power plant unless you are physically inside the power plant.

      I am not 100% sure about the air traffic systems but they should be designed the same way. All hardware (radar ect) is on-site and hooked to the internal network. This network does not communicate with ANY machines outside the network. So to hack it you would have to physically be inside the control station or tower.

      These closed networks do sometimes get hacked. For instance the Stuxnet virus infection in the Iranian power plants. But for this to happen someone inside the plant has to upload the virus or someone has to unknowingly bring it in on a device. Hooking up and infected usb drive to a terminal or putting an infected laptop onto the wifi.

      There is no way to make a security system that someone can not break into. You can easily make a security system that YOU would never be able to hack, but someone(s) is smarter then you and will break you security. So vital systems like power, air traffic are (or should be) on closed networks.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 11:37am

      Re: Help me understand

      Help me understand why this is wrong thinking- I'd like to know.

      Pretty much everyone who has a grasp of what's going on these days in computer and network security—so-called “cybersecurity”—is probably fearful to the point of paranoia. At the same time, the situation calls for sustained and reasoned thinking. Only high-functioning schizophrenics can really cope.

      Therefore, the first thing to do is to shoot anyone who panics.

       

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    lostalaska (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 11:36am

    Hey Maybe Congress will....

    ...call in Micheal Bay to help them dream up ridiculous scenarios of hacking causing fireballs to erupt from the internet killing "literally" trillions of internet users.

    This reminds me so much of the overhyped doomsday scenerio's of Y2k where the people yelling loudest about it were coincidentally the same ones offering the expensive(lucrative?)solutions to a more or less non-problem that programmers had been quietly fixing for nearly a decade beforehand. It's like someone Netflixed Die Hard 2 and couldn't fall asleep afterward, what if they hack all the planes!

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Feb 17th, 2012 @ 12:06pm

    Government or The Omnipotent Protector?

    Our government seems to be rather jealous. All of these companies, all of these people everywhere have hordes of useful, provocative, contemplative collections of data. Heck telecom has oodles and oodles of the stuff. How can I most easily and readily get my hands on that? All of that? Safety! Of course! Why didn't I think of that sooner!? Dag nab it. OK, let's go get us some bona fide, certified and guaranteed access to all of it.

    Justify yourselves!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 1:57pm

    I mean, if we're talking about total hypotheticals with no actual likelihood of happening, that seems just as reasonable a scenario as Rockefeller's. It's pure, insane, unsupported hypothetical fear mongering.

    You mean like "breaking the internet"?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    A Rockefeller and a Jew. Why am I not surprised?

     

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    ironboltbruce, Feb 17th, 2012 @ 4:26pm

    World War Web Advisories 1 - 4

    World War Web Advisory #4: S.2105 Cybersecurity Act of 2012 a.k.a. The Empire Strikes Back

    http://amerikanreich.com/2012/02/15/world-war-web-advisory-4-s-2105-cybersecurity-act-of-201 2-a-k-a-the-empire-strikes-back/

    World War Web Advisory #3: ACTA, SOPA, PIPA and Now PCIP!

    http://amerikanreich.com/2012/02/02/world-war-web-advisory-3-acta-sopa-pipa-and-now-pcip/

    World War Web Advisory #2: We Must Stop ACTA (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement)

    http://amerikanreich.com/2012/01/22/world-war-web-advisory-2-we-must-stop-acta-the-ant i-counterfeiting-trade-agreement/

    World War Web Advisory #1: Are You An Unwitting Victim Of Internet Censorship?

    http://amerikanreich.com/2012/01/21/world-war-web-advisory-1-are-you-an-unwitting-vic tim-of-internet-censorship/

     

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    Clare, Feb 18th, 2012 @ 4:40pm

    Techdirt

    It would make a good movie tho'.

     

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    Mekhong Kurt (profile), Feb 19th, 2012 @ 11:05pm

    Penetrating critical systems.

    Right off, let me say that I am not myself any sort of computer expert at all. However, I do know and have known some over the years, including a few with cybersecurity in both the civilian and [U.S.] military spheres.

    Apparently, it *is* possible to penetrate these systems, though if they're established as closed intranets, entirely disconnected from the global World Wide Web, they are harder to penetrate than would be the case were they connected to the global network. But not impossible, not by a long shot.

    It's a matter of public record and many news reports that there have been a number of cybersecurity breaches of our government networks, including defense and intelligence networks. My impression, and it could be incorrect, that the majority and most alarming have apparently been caused by other nations' agencies; China is the usual suspect, with good reason, though one wonders just how "inert" even some of our ostensible allies -- Israel, Britain, France, and Germany all spring readily to mind -- actually *are.* While HUMINT (human intelligence) can be invaluable, especially coming from a long-term, deep-cover mole within a defense, intelligence, security-law enforcement agency, so can be intelligence gained in other ways. Further, if a hostile actor finds a way to defeat or circumvent defense barriers on networks, he can go on the attack, including -- potentially -- taking a network down. Or so I understand.

    My point is that while this legislation is yet one more abomination coming out our increasingly abominable Congress and should go right straight down the toilet (along, metaphorically, with certain Senators and Representatives, by the way), if my understanding that we are at risk is correct, then perhaps -- but ONLY perhaps -- something by way of legislation needs to be done, though we need to ride herd -- hard -- on the critters under the Capitol Dome, with whips close to hand to be sure they don't make further encroachments on the Constitution.

    If they persist, thought elections aren't far away, in the first place, only 1/3rd of the Senate will be facing re-election, assuming the currently-sitting Senator plans to stand for office again (and I think a few are retiring), so the second place becomes reasonable: start recall-election drives. Even if state laws make it impossible to have such an election prior to November's general one, the negative publicity could hurt a candidate hard, perhaps even causing him or her to go down in utter flames -- and shame. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!!, IMHO. Let 'em burn. Few currently on the scene, on either side of the aisle, deserve anything better anyway.

     

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    Dave, Feb 20th, 2012 @ 10:46am

    Anything having to do with the erosion of our liberties is almost totally Kosher (just like the DHS, TSA, NDAA, internet killswitch), so don't believe for a minute that McCain has anything to do with this, this has dual citizen Israeli Lieberman's fingerprints all over it.
    One day soon we will wake up living in a Jewish policestate & treated like Palestinian's here in the US.
    We're almost there...

     

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    Neil Walker, Feb 20th, 2012 @ 2:14pm

    "Is our air traffic system connected to the internet? I sure hope not. If it is, that's the problem -- not the lack of some cybersecurity bill."

    I totally agree. Allowing access to control ANYTHING through the internet without thinking it through is insane. Hackers will always find ways around the system. Just ask Microsoft. No, this bill has "ulterior motives" written all over it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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