The Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled Was Convincing The Public The 'Hacker Threat' Exists

from the the-2nd-was-continuing-taxation-long-after-representation-ceased-to-exist dept

The US government is already fighting wars on several fronts, including the perpetual War on Terror. "War is the health of the state," as Randolph Bourne stated, and the state has never been healthier, using this variety of opponents as excuses to increase surveillance, curtail rights and expand power.

Bruce Schneier highlights a piece written by Molly Sauter for the Atlantic which poses the question, "If hackers didn't exist, would the government have to invent them?" The government certainly seems to need some sort of existential hacker threat in order to justify more broadly/badly written laws (on top of the outdated and overbroad CFAA). But the government's portrayal of hackers as "malicious, adolescent techno-wizards, willing and able to do great harm to innocent civilians and society at large," is largely false. If teen techno-wizards aren't taking down site after site, how is all this personal information ending up in hackers' hands? Plain old human carelessness.

According to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, the loss or improper disposal of paper records, portable devices like laptops or memory sticks, and desktop computers have accounted for more than 1,400 data-breach incidents since 2005 -- almost half of all the incidents reported. More than 180,000,000 individual records were compromised in these breaches...
By comparison, only 631 breaches were attributed to actual hacking, or at least hacking as it's portrayed by the government. Private entities aren't very worried about being hacked either, at least not from the outside. Their main concern, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, is "inside jobs" by disgruntled employees.

Nonetheless, the narrative advanced by the government (and passed along by the largely credulous mainstream media) of unstoppable hackers and their omnipresent threat to major companies, the government itself, average Americans and underlying infrastructure, continues nearly unimpeded. This narrative is essential to those in the government who wish to justify large-scale surveillance of anything and anyone connected to the internet. The scarier the image, the more it can get away with.
It is the hacker -- a sort of modern folk devil who personifies our anxieties about technology -- who gets all the attention. The result is a set of increasingly paranoid and restrictive laws and regulations affecting our abilities to communicate freely and privately online, to use and control our own technology, and which puts users at risk for overzealous prosecutions and invasive electronic search and seizure practices. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the cornerstone of domestic computer-crime legislation, is overly broad and poorly defined. Since its passage in 1986, it has created a pile of confused caselaw and overzealous prosecutions.
We've seen the overzealous prosecution and expressed disbelief and amazement at some of the interpretations of this outdated law. (Amazingly, Sauter's post was written before the most recent cases of overzealous prosecution.) And instead of fixing the CFAA, legislators are actively working to make it worse, even as overly-broad cybersecurity legislation is being negotiated in secret.

The "modern folk devil" image has become part of the mass consciousness. Anonymous and its various offshoots roam the internet, at turns wreaking havoc and helping the oppressed, like an electronic manifestation of Loki, the Distributed. These activities are duly reported by the media in ominous tones, further driving home the image of the hacker at Millennial Public Enemy No. 1. The acts and the perception of the damage caused by this hacking are miles apart, as is perfectly illustrated by xkcd.


Many members of the American public are already convinced something should be done about hackers. Many of our representatives feel the same way. A lack of knowledge of the underlying technology, much less the methods or culture, hasn't deterred legislators from crafting an overbroad response with the CISPA bill. Examining the issues more closely or reconsidering the legislation doesn't seem to be an option. After all, a "cyber Pearl Harbor" is all but inevitable, a conclusion confirmed by shouting "HACKER!" in the halls of Congress and hearing it echoed back by like-minded representatives, sympathetich government agencies, the media and a subset of the American public.

In the effort to protect society and the state from the ravages of this imagined hacker, the US government has adopted overbroad, vaguely worded laws and regulations which severely undermine internet freedom and threaten the Internet's role as a place of political and creative expression.
The endgame is more control, and the "hacker" provides an ominous, omnipresent threat that, because of the hacker's naturally secretive nature, can neither be confirmed or denied with any veracity. Much like the War on Terror, this War on Hacking takes rights from the American public, carves out huge chunks and sends the gutted remains back to citizens in a package marked "Safety."



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  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 5:49am

    What about getting the public behind the war on terror?

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 5:59am

    It's ironic that this opinion piece comes out when I watched "The Net" last night. I think we should mostly blame Hollywood for this. "The Net" brought ID theft to it and "Live Free and Die Hard" is another one. Oh and the classic "Hackers"....and even "Superman III".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:04am

    The Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled Was Convincing The Public The 'Terrorist Threat' Exists

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    If you add up all the time lost and wasted due to Microsoft's lousy design and unneeded "features", plus their extortion schemes that sell basically the same product except with deliberate addition of incompatibilities for lock-in, then the hackers at Microsoft are among the top ten worst burdens on and threats to mankind.

    Your title is false besides stupid. This doesn't even come close to "Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled" -- too many bigger to list, but just the ginned-up war against Iraq that didn't attack the US with the WMD they didn't have exceeds it by millions of times.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    So true, most real hackers are nothing like their Hollywood portrayals, real hackers keep a lower profile. These descriptions are closer to that of a hardcore gamer, or punk rocker, or both. That has the unfortunate effect of labeling these people as such, when they are really not.

    Furthermore, many of the abilities shown by hackers and techies on these shows are grossly exaggerated, compared to what is physically possible in the real world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:15am

    Governments need external enemies to divert peoples attention away from what they are doing. 'Hackers' are ideal enemies for creating frightening headlines while doing little real damage.

     

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    Kingster (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    The difference, you dolt, between Iraq and "the hack" is that we, the citizens of the US, will lose more freedoms, and be subjected to more big-brother than ever before. If the government succeeds in what they are seeking to do, we will become the citizens of a country doing damn near the same exact things as Saddam Hussein was doing to his people (maybe we won't be killed like the Kurds).

    So, yes... I *would* agree that this will be the greatest trick. It will be the trick where WE are bamboozled into giving up our rights, rather than bamboozled into war.

     

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    TaCktiX, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    It disgusts me that both government and large corporations use hackers as a scapegoat instead of properly safing and/or isolating critical systems. Greed and laziness to such an extent that I can't believe it.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    Rather reminds me of 1984 ...

    ...surely the hacker's name is Goldstein.

     

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    BentFranklin (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:24am

    Who else is expecting an anthrax-style false flag hacker attack with some localized fatalities but with widespread reporting and fear-mongering to build up the nation's immune response to hackers resulting in another round of self-inflicted security lupus?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Re: Rather reminds me of 1984 ...

    NOOOOOO I hate Goldstien...

    At least for two minutes every day...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:41am

    Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    "...the hackers at Microsoft are among the top ten worst burdens on and threats to mankind."

    As much as I hate Microsoft, I have to point out that they were partly responsible for the democratization of the PC.

    Had it not been for them, you would probably still be paying thousands (plural) of bucks for a mediocre PC.

    So it wasn't all bad. Certainly not as bad as the rogue financial institutions who wrecked the economy or Big Oil that wrecks the economy AND the environment.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:44am

    Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    What does Microsoft have to do with the threat of hacking (or lack thereof)? Even if the threat is as high as government claims, it is not up to MS to secure networks, it is up to network administrators. Supposed unneeded features or lock ins are irrelevant.

    I am no MS fan (Linux FTW) but your rant is, as usual, nonsensical.

     

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    TasMot (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:48am

    Have I got the order right

    But But But The Redcoats
    But But But The Germans
    But But But The Communists
    But But But For The Children
    But But But The Hackers
    But But But The Indians (you know, the real ones from India)
    But But But The Mexicans
    But But But The Terrorists
    But But But The Hackers

    Personnally, I see a trend here...... 50 bitcoins to whoever can predict next years But But But..... from the Congress Critters who seem to be unable to balance a very real budget, but can spend Billions chasing the next boogeyman that was created via FUD.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:48am

    sympathetich

    Where the 'h' did that come from? (:

     

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    uRspqF7L (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 6:51am

    another great parody of thought from best site since The Onion

    this is an excellent version of the "A" story: "hackers are powerless and all the bad stories about us are fiction."

    don't worry, folks: within a couple weeks there'll be a reason for the "B" story to reappear: "hackers are the new form of power and they are transforming/fixing our whole world for the better, so you get out of the way"

    sadly, there will not be a "C" story, noting how often this site and others oscillate between the two, whichever one happens to serve the interests of the day.

    nor will there be one reflecting on the way Google, Facebook, and other now-huge corporations specifically look for "hackers" as their #1 form of pre-employment qualification, and how many of those who go on to work at those places self-identified as "hackers" before they "sold out." THEY think hackers are powerful. So do the ex-hackers who go to work for them.

    Nor will there be a column reflecting on the fact that because government and corporate secrecy are at an all-time high, in part due to the efforts of many ex-hackers who work for corporations and the military, none of us really know how much damage hackers do or don't do. the govt's hacker alarms might be propaganda, they might be 100% true, and they might be in-between, and nobody on this site actually knows, despite the trolling commentary and stories insisting they do know.

    on an editorial note, your link that says it's to a Bruce Schneier column goes to an unrelated story by Doug Bandow.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    Now what is particularly disturbing is that the attitude the DOJ currently holds towards them is extremely accurate to the head of the DOJ in "Hackers"...believe the big corporations and never mind the humans that help exposť security holes.

    I do not support brining down web pages and such, but if there is a hole they really need to pay people to fill it. It's sad that Hollywood has such a close connection to the DOJ.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    Well there are those of us deeply scarred from IE6....and some of us on the dark side of the Mac still kind of sore about IE being a blatant copy of Mosaic....Windows ME added the system restore feature to Windows and would restore viruses and malware if you cleaned up after a restore point. I'd say that's sufficient :-)


    It's a rare OOTB moment you just commented on.

     

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    AW, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Was that Schneier/Sauter link right?

    Looks like it heads to an '09 Cato post about war, yeah?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I think they just wrote him to be a generic, corrupt, greedy and overzealous politician.

    Oh wait...

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:17am

    Re:

    For how long?

     

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    TasMot (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    IE wasn't a blatant copy of Mosaic. Microcrappy bought Mosaic and destroyed it in the process of creating IE. So, not blatant copy, blatant destruction of a good product they bought. This is not to say either way was better for us. Just a more accurate rendition of history.

     

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    Shon Gale (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Most of the intrusions are Search Engines. They are always interrogating our servers. We have secure servers, so no hacking problems, just out of date search engines.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re:

    At all

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    Re: another great parody of thought from best site since The Onion

    Not lies, more of a misdirection.

    Hackers aren't powerless, they are just not worth worrying about. The bad stories are true, they are just few and far between, and even most of those are just about people doing regular old boring crime with computers, they aren't usually about super powered techno wizards actually breaching real security and/or doing real damage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Mike,

    I don't think you linked to the right article by Bruce Schneier. The URL points to the Cato Institute:
    "War Is the Health of the State, Redux" By Doug Bandow

     

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    crade (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    It's pretty ridiculous to say they haven't already been. Question is how long do you want them to be? They will be behind it as long as they are terrorized. If they aren't behind it currently, terrorizing them a bit more should do the trick.

     

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    TrueBoneHead, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:33am

    Ridiculous

    So is it the government that is sending all these DDOS attacks at the Banks? It would be weird, because the FBI of that same government works with major financial institutions every time they are slammed with DDOS attacks. Hacking is not what it used to be or what people think. It's comprised of many things. And instead of a conspiracy theory type article that really provides very little useful information, you could have split this up into "REAL hacking and what it is" and "Government Manipulation and Control".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:34am

    Re:

    Sorry Tim,
    I didn't look at the writer....

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    "IE being a blatant copy of Mosaic"

    Your technical facts are as solid as ever:

    "Spyglass licensed the technology and trademarks from NCSA for producing their own web browser but never used any of the NCSA Mosaic source code. Microsoft licensed Spyglass Mosaic in 1995 for US$2 million, modified it, and renamed it Internet Explorer"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_(web_browser)#Background

    Unless you're going to claim that spending millions on a licence in order to develop a version of the software you licenced is "making a blatant copy" (like your beloved Apple does all the time), then your facts are wrong.

    "It's a rare OOTB moment you just commented on."

    Not really. He tried to derail the thread with some silly distraction, then went full retard at the end with crap that has nothing to do with the issue being discussed. It looks par for the course to me.

     

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    Josef Anvil (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    Re:

    LoL The public is behind the war on terror. Don't you read the news???

    22 year old tackled by a concerned citizen for "suspiciously" running away from a bomb blast in Boston. Anyone who looks Muslim and runs away from a bomb blast has to be a terrorist.
    Who else would do such a thing?

     

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    Akari Mizunashi (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    As a friendly reminder...

    "Many members of the American public are already convinced something should be done about hackers."

    ... would be the same members who once thought PCs came with a free cup holder.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re: Ridiculous

    DDOS attack are not hacks.

    Yes, they are disruptive to the target. Yes, they can be used to hide real hacks. But a DDOS by itself does not allow unauthorized access, just as a traffic jam outside a bank branch doesn't let a bank robber stroll into the vault.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    An even more disturbing parallel is that particular character is African American....just like Eric Holder...

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    Microsoft Internet Explorer 1 (IE1) made its debut from Microsoft on August 16, 1995. It was a reworked version of Spyglass Mosaic which Microsoft had licensed like many other companies initiating browser development, from Spyglass Inc. It came with Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95 and OEM release of Windows 95. It was installed as part of the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Plus! The Internet Explorer team began with about half a dozen people in early development. Internet Explorer 1.5 was released several months later for Windows NT and added support for basic HTML table rendering.

    However, by including it for free on their operating system they did not have to pay royalties to Spyglass, which resulted in a lawsuit and a US$8 million settlement on January 22, 1997.

    Although not included, this software can also be installed on the original release of Windows 95.

    Internet Explorer 1 is no longer supported, or available for download from Microsoft. However, archived versions of the software can be found on various websites.

     

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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If memory serves, wasn't he actually supposed to be a secret service agent or something?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    This is our world now... the world of the electron and the switch, the
    beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying
    for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn't run by profiteering gluttons, and
    you call us criminals. We explore... and you call us criminals. We seek
    after knowledge... and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color,
    without nationality, without religious bias... and you call us criminals.
    You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us
    and try to make us believe it's for our own good, yet we're the criminals.

    Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is
    that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
    My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me
    for.

    I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual,
    but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.

     

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    Roland, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Re: Have I got the order right

    But But But Kevin Mittnick!
    He can launch ICBMs with his cellphone!

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 9:28am

    Re: Re:

    I think Zakida's point is that convincing the public to back the war on "terror" is the greatest trick the government ever pulled.

    I disagree. It was a great trick, but terrorists can actually pose a real physical threat to large numbers of people. Hackers can't. So hackers was the greater trick.

    Of course, it's all really the same trick over and over, with different boogymen. Remember when it was communists, then anarchists?

     

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    Jay (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Communists, Socialists, and unions were a problem because they stopped our capitalist system from killing itself. Now that we don't have those bogeymen, we need new ones to justify the damage we're doing to our nation.

    The 20th century was about the systematic destruction of the groups opposing laissez-faire capitalism. Once we had those posts taken over, the government was next. Now it's the public because they shouldn't be informed of what a computer can do in finding out information.

    I hate that our government has been co-opted by people with reactionary responses to issues, but it's not going to get better if people ignore the policies and politics that are in play.

     

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    Chris Brand, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Witchcraft

    It really is much like the Salem witch trials all over again. Some strange people don't conform, and appear able to do things that "normal" people can't. They're scary, so let's be sure to burn them before they turn our computers into frogs.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 10:24am

    Re: Have I got the order right

    But But But The Seditionaries!
    But But But The Insurrectionists!

     

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    o_O, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 10:38am

    Re:

    srsly Tim, do you even spell check?

     

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    ArtTechLaw (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re:

    The whole hacker thing comes out of its Hollywood portrayals - War Games was the first to really delineate the "Young Dangerous Nerdy Hacker" stereotype, cemented in the public consciousness with movies like Hacker.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 10:58am

    I'm pretty sure they have had better tricks. Just off the top of my head GWB got elected twice somehow, that's pretty impressive.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 11:23am

    Sorting out security info

    I read whatever comes out about online security and it is difficult to make sense of it. While Techdirt likes to single out the government, there are lots of accounts of online hacks written by people who have been victims, by companies offering protection services, and by hackers claiming credit.

    There isn't really a totally unbiased discussion of actual threat levels.

    What I do believe is that there is so much intertwining between government and private contractors that I don't think the government does anything that isn't backed by private enterprise at some level. So if you want to make sense of that connection, follow the money. US government isn't really distinct from private enterprise. It is, these days, often a manifestation of private enterprise and special interests.

     

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    ECA (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:18pm

    Something to comment on

    This is strange.
    The USA Gov. wishes to monitor TONS of information in every direction on the NET. Yes there are back doors to many systems and sites, and DONT think that your Privacy is secure.

    There are OLD hat ways to make things secure, but those ways of doing things have been passed up for Quick and DIRTY programming, with HOLES IN IT.

    The, Partly SMART, computer user is and can be more protected then the Gov./corps for many reasons. We can CHANGE things faster..We can FIX things faster, we can go out and evaluate programs. The Gov/Corp has to install this on MANY system inside there WHOLE system, not just 1-2 computers.

    Difficulties come when the GOV wishes to WATCH us. it has to get the Corps to put MORE HOLES in our net and on our computers..HOLES are not good things. MS installed a CERTIFICATE system into their system to Check sites and servers..Problem: it cost $99 per year to get one, and the hackers Bought a few and found the coding.. Found that it allowed the site to INSTALL anything, because it was Certified..

    If you want NETWORK security you dont allow access to your MAIN SERVER. This is a OLD known idea. Anything thats needed to be INPUT must be Scanned MANY times(in different ways) before you allow it on the system. You scan the software for Virus Bots, and then the Code to see if its PROPERLY WRITTEN, then you run it on a auxiliary system and EMULATE what it will do. (esp on/for critical system)

    AND the biggest thing...BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP..1 backup isnt enough. AND you TEST your backup. its very time consuming. it requires EXTRA hardware and money..

     

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    Anonymous Cowherd, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:33pm

    "Techno-wizards" is ironically accurate. Typical politicians' impression of computer hacking and network security is straight out of Hollywood movies, and has about as much to do with reality as Harry Potter.

    Typical citizens' impression is probably from the movies, too. But at least they don't get to make laws based on that "knowledge."

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Sorting out security info

    The subject is made more complicated by the fact that "hacker" is very nearly a meaningless scare word. In the context of system security, there are really two kinds. The most common kind uses the internet as their attack vector.

    This kind only poses a threat to systems connected to the internet, of course, so it's easy to eliminate them from the national security picture altogether by making sure that no critical systems are connected to the internet. There kinds of hackers are not terribly important. They can cause inconvenience and financial loss, but they can't make airplanes fall out of the sky or blow up nuclear reactors or anything like that.

    The second kind are the serious hackers. They primary target systems not connected to the internet (think the Iranian centrifuges, for example). These people know what they're doing, can cause real damage, and are difficult to defend against. They're also rare and usually state-sponsored.

    The government is properly concerned with that second type, and their scare-talk is really about them. However, they conflate that sort of hacker with the garden-variety and essentially harmless kind in order to exaggerate the overall threat. This lets them put surveillance measures onto the internet itself. Doing so is not related to legitimate national security, but they can't get people on board by saying what it's really related to: domestic social control.

    Does this help clarify the landscape?

     

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

  51.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Sorting out security info

    Doing so is not related to legitimate national security, but they can't get people on board by saying what it's really related to: domestic social control.

    I have no problem with people being wary of "domestic social control." But I always go a step further to point out that I think companies collecting data are facilitating this, directly or indirectly. If that data is being collected, if that data is being sold, and if people don't clearly know what data is being collected about them and how it is being used, then the entire system is inter-related. Trying to cite government as the sole bad guy strikes me as a cover for the lack of systematic privacy.

     

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  52.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 1:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Sorting out security info

    I use "government" as shorthand for "our current system of governmental control" which is a combination of government and corporate entities. In practice, the huge corporations are just as much "the government" as the people we vote for.

    You're right about private companies being a huge part of the problem. The government we vote for uses private companies heavily, specifically because private companies aren't restricted by things like the Constitution.

     

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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorting out security info

    You're right about private companies being a huge part of the problem. The government we vote for uses private companies heavily, specifically because private companies aren't restricted by things like the Constitution.

    Yes, I think the push for privatizing everything gives lots of cover to those collecting and using data. If citizens protest the government, just have those functions done by private companies that want to do away with any restrictions/regulations on their actions anyway. We replace a semi-regulated system (government) with a totally unregulated system (private enterprise).

     

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  54.  
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    AzureSky (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 2:04pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    OOTB went full on freetard in that post.....I would say he was channeling stallman but.....even stallman isnt going to make this kind of claim....and hes battshit crazy.

     

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  55.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    I have to point out that they were partly responsible for the democratization of the PC.


    True, but that was in the BeforeTime. Microsoft has long since used up the goodwill that they accrued from those halcyon days.

    Had it not been for them, you would probably still be paying thousands (plural) of bucks for a mediocre PC.


    This is certainly not true. Cheap PCs aren't a result of Microsoft. If Microsoft never existed, you'd probably be using PCs not much different than what we have now, except they wouldn't be running Windows.

     

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  56.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    some of us on the dark side of the Mac still kind of sore about IE being a blatant copy of Mosaic


    I think it's an unfair characterization to say that IE is a blatant copy of Mosaic.

    But that aside, why would Apple fans in particular be upset by it?

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:05pm

    Re:

    Or, The Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled Was Convincing The Public That The Public Needs The Government.

     

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

  58.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    What I find interesting is the politicians sit around getting their news from CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc news, and they still believe that the propaganda shown there, is what the population sees and believes. The reaction to SOPA should have been a wake up call for them. But instead it is business as usual.

     

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  59.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re:

    Or, The Greatest Trick The Government Ever Pulled Was Convincing The Public That The Public Needs The Government.

    You'd have to take on a lot of American history, starting with the founding of the country, if you want to argue for that one.

    People organize. There's always some form of government. Even at the micro level there are families and tribes, which are forms of government.

     

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  60.  
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    Karl (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:30pm

    Re:

    It's ironic that this opinion piece comes out when I watched "The Net" last night.

    Not to mention "Skyfall," which has some of the worst depictions of "hacking" I've ever seen (though it's still a good movie).

    Frankly, I've never seen a depiction of hacking in a film that was even halfway accurate... probably because it's boring.

    Also, the real way to "hack" systems isn't through computer programming; it's through social engineering. Of course, saying "you got hacked because you acted like an idiot" doesn't scare people enough to enforce bad laws, so...

     

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  61.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:40pm

    Does the public need government?

    Sadly, the public does need government when it comes to large states.

    Small tribal villages can get away with only minimal oversight, but large ones end up having internal strife as factions form and then wage war on each other. That's part of the purpose of spectator sports.

    But yeah, that whole monopoly-on-force thing, where if you disregard the basic rights of another, law enforcement detects the infraction, arrests you and brings you to justice, is an important role.

    Not that this is what we have anymore, now that the DoJ is conspicuously pro-rich and anti-poor. This isn't a situation that will sustain itself.

     

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  62.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 3:57pm

    Re: Does the public need government?

    Government ends up taking over when private operations fail to protect the public. Here are some examples:

    Commons Has Expanded, Not Shrunk, Over Past 200 Years | On the Commons: "If you had asked the person next to you in New York or virtually any other city for a drink of water in 1825, they would have had a predictable response: go buy your own. ... Water, safe and dependable water, was a private responsibility. ... It was only after a cholera epidemic and a fire that political will expanded to create one of the nationís first public water system."

    Think Those Chemicals Have Been Tested? - NYTimes.com: "Pharmaceutical companies used to be able to sell drugs with minimal prior testing, but that changed after a drug called Thalidomide, given in the 1950s to pregnant women for morning sickness, was found to cause severe birth defects the public outcry helped push the medical field to take a precautionary approach to introducing new drugs."

     

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

  63.  
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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    War Games is a bit unique in that factor because it played out the stereotypical teenage attitude in a guy who tended to harmlessly explore other computer systems by dialing in with a phone coupler modem. It was a surprisingly accurate portrayal of actual hackers at the time outside of the actual plot of the film.

    Hackers was the over the top with the pretty much every bit of it.

     

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  64.  
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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:34pm

    Re: Re:

    War Games should be on NetFlix...outside of the computer named Joshua...a lot of the hacking done is fairly accurate for the time.

     

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

  65.  
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    Wally (profile), Apr 17th, 2013 @ 8:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    You're responding to an Apple Luddite ;-) Actually, truth be told we used IE 3 and 4 with dial up in my family back then :-)

     

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

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re:

    Do you need a brain?

     

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

  67.  
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    Angry Voter, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 5:39am

    By the numbers....

    You are more likely to be killed by the government than by terrorists.

    While you're at it, look up the number of TSA agents that are convicted sex offenders.

     

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

  68.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 5:57am

    Re: Re: Ridiculous

    I hate to say this, but you're wrong. In order to carry out a DDOS attack you have to hijack zombie computers and their traffic to redirect data flow to a website. That is hacking.

     

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  69.  
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    CuddlyCactusMC, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    As long as there are bugs in code, there will be hackers

     

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

  70.  
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    PK, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    "Had it not been for them, you would probably still be paying thousands (plural) of bucks for a mediocre PC."

    You have been fed this MS propaganda.Cheap PCs were the result of open standards or open system architecture (BIOs)- nothing produced by Microsoft.


    "What does Microsoft have to do with the threat of hacking"
    Microsoft Windows is to computing is what STDs are to sex:

    http://m.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/oct/13/microsoft-security-botnets-fixes

    "amo ng the top ten worst burdens on and threats to mankind."

    The monopolist has become a parasitic patent troll.

     

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

  71.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 9:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    I'm not sure what an "Apple luddite" actually is. Someone who computes using an abacus made from apples instead of beads? :)

    In any case, I was really just curious as to why the provenance of IE would hold any special interest to Apple fans. I would have thought that it would be something that holds little meaning for them at all, since Apple wasn't involved.

    I'm thinking that my knowledge of the history of the two companies may be incomplete since I can't connect those dots.

     

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  72.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 9:50am

    Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    "Had it not been for them, you would probably still be paying thousands (plural) of bucks for a mediocre PC...
    This is certainly not true. Cheap PCs aren't a result of Microsoft."

    Moore's law might have something to do with cheaper PCs. Windows licenses led to a decade of a "Windows tax" that led to billions(plural of bucks)
    wasted in Microsoft profits. Microsoft licenses required royalties from OEMs foreach computer sold, whether or not the unit actually contained the Windows operating system.

    Accidental Empires only wastes a chapter on Microsoft:
    http://www.cringely.com/tag/accidental-empires/


    The first PCs used a cheap cpu found in micro wave ovens- These PCs uses CP/M , an operating system developed by Gary Kildall:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZV5eQZLIgOM


    " If Microsoft never existed, you'd probably be using PCs not much different than what we have now, except they wouldn't be running Windows."

    OSX,Linux or Android? Resources might not have been wasted on Wintel.. We might have moved on to ARM Risc-based processors sooner:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reduced_instruction_set_computing#RISC:_from_cell_phones_to_ supercomputers

     

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

  73.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    Um. No.

    That would be the sign of a rather sophisticated DDOS.

    Anonymous "hijacked" computers with java code on websites (which is to say they participated so long as the site was running on their computer. In some cases they used volunteers. In other cases they tricked unwitting players to hang out on their attack site.

    But yours isn't a zombie computer until it has some malicious botnet infrastructure installed.

     

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  74.  
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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Ridiculous

    I hang my head in shame for my unclosed prin clause.

     

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

  75.  
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    Suzanne Lainson (profile), Apr 18th, 2013 @ 12:49pm

    THIS is the issue

    Privacy isn't a government-only discussion.

    Google Glass and the emerging Glasshole culture | ZDNet: "With Glass, because the device is being worn and there's no indication of when it is being used, one has to assume that the wearer is recording everyone all of the time."

     

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

  76.  
    identicon
    Cyber Killer, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 8:51pm

    Not Hacker

    Hacker != Cracker

    You need to correct the article.

     

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

  77.  
    identicon
    Inno, Apr 18th, 2013 @ 11:01pm

    Re: Have I got the order right

    Does the "Ongoing threat of terrorism, and rising together as a country count? because these bitcoins sound pretty good right about now.

     

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

  78.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 3:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    Yeah... and? MS licensed Mosaic in order to release a version of it as IE. Like I said. That's different from your claim that they copied it.

    Do you have a point, or are you just going to link to more sites that back up my facts rather than your version of them?

     

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

  79.  
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    PaulT (profile), Apr 19th, 2013 @ 4:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hackers are minor alongside Microsoft.

    The rise of IE should be of interest to anybody, since MS were found guilty of antitrust with its distribution, and it was so far removed from accepted standards that its dominance essentially broke the web for non-IE users for many years during its early formative era for a mass audience. Something that would still be the case if Firefox hadn't gained a mainstream foothold.

    Having said that, I'm not exactly sure what Wally's point is here, except to try and launch some half-assed potshots at Microsoft. There's a lot to criticise Microsoft for, but IE1 is small potatoes is the larger scheme of things. If he doesn't want to go for the later antitrust issues with IE, he could at least go for the DR-DOS/AARD code and Wordperfect fiascos (in both cases Microsoft apparently introduced incompatibilities and/or misleading error messages into Windows 3.1 and 95 respectively, in order to falsely imply that competitors' products would be incompatible).

     

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


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