Press Parrots Cybersecurity FUD From Former NSA Boss Without Mentioning Massive Conflict Of Interest
from the do-some-freaking-research dept
Not this again. Nearly three years ago, we wrote about the growing hype around “cyberwar” in the US government — much of it being pushed by one Michael McConnell. News reports love to cover McConnell’s fear-mongering about how the internet is at risk. He used to always talk about “cyberwar” but that term went out of fashion, so lately it’s all “cyberattacks” and “cyberterrorism.” The reason the press loves McConnell is that he’s a former head of the NSA (under Clinton) and director of national intelligence (under George W. Bush). What those reports don’t like to mention is that since leaving the government, McConnell has a very cushy job as Vice Chairman of Booz, Allen, Hamilton. Booz Allen is a company that regularly seems to do $100 million+ deals with government agencies, many of them related to cybersecurity. You think that having a former NSA director running around scaring agencies about how they’re at risk of “cyberwar” or “cybersecurity” isn’t useful for business?
And yet, it seems that time and time again when we see McConnell’s name, reporters completely fail to mention this particular conflict of interest. Instead, they report his claims as if they’re fact, despite the much simpler and more obvious fact: no one has died from an internet attack. Ever. None. Zero. Zilch.
Take, for example, this News.com article by Steven Musil. And then let me know where either of these points is made. You can’t, because they’re not in there. McConnell’s connection to Booz isn’t mentioned. Nor is the fact that “cyberthreats” are still as dangerous as a ghost story.
Instead, he throws in a couple scary scary quotes from McConnell about how we’re getting close to a cyber-9/11 or a cyber-Pearl Harbor without pointing out that plenty of people think such claims are completely overblown. Also, we’ve been hearing about this for years now, and while it’s been quite profitable for McConnell, there’s been no evidence that such a threat is really any closer. But, boy does it make money for government contractors. This isn’t to pick on Musil in particular — plenty of reporters seem totally taken in by McConnell’s old job and seem to throw any skepticism (or the ability to do a basic Google search about his current job) out the window. But if we keep seeing it, we’re going to keep calling it out until people realize that maybe there are motives there beyond what McConnell says.