Cyberwar Or Moral Panic? Beware Of Ex-Politicians Screaming About Cyberthreats
from the let-it-go dept
For years and years we’ve been hearing about the supposed threats of “cyberwar” and “cyberterrosism.” For nearly a decade we’ve questioned whether this was all hype, and the story hasn’t changed. Sure, there are hackers and those who look to break into systems, but the real risks and overall threats still seem fairly minimal. But that’s not enough for some people. Wired’s Ryan Singel has a long, but excellent look at how former director of national intelligence (now consultant) Michael McConnell appears to be trying to build up a giant moral panic about this ill-defined threat, with the goal of basically ripping out the guts of today’s internet to recreate it with almost no privacy at all. He recently claimed:
We need to re-engineer the Internet to make attribution, geo-location, intelligence analysis and impact assessment — who did it, from where, why and what was the result — more manageable
In other words, we need to be able to spy on everyone. To build up this moral panic, McConnell isn’t even just getting the press to write articles for him — he’s doing it himself. The Washington Post recently gave him op-ed space to ridiculously claim that the recent hack on Google showed we’re “losing the cyberwar.” Yet, as Singel points out, that was entirely different. It wasn’t warfare, it was espionage. McConnell also played up some bogus threats, such as some old viruses and botnets that are hardly part of some dangerous “cyberwar.”
Singel then goes on to connect McConnell’s efforts with various other political proposals lately — suggesting that the government is moving towards more control of the internet and more monitoring. At times, unfortunately, the piece feels like it slips a bit into conspiracy theory territory — but McConnell’s efforts certainly appear questionable. He’s pushing a bogus “threat” and he works for a company that could profit tremendously from any “response” to such a threat. That seems like a massive conflict of interest that a lot of people are ignoring.