The Cyberpolitics Of Cyberbellicosity Cyberpushing Cybersecurity To Cyberprevent Cyberwar

from the cyber-cyber-cyber dept

Let's kick this off with an obligatory link to WillUsingThePrefixCyberMakeMeLookLikeAnIdiot.com. As Senator Harry Reid has declared that the Senate absolutely will vote on a cybersecurity bill soon, despite significant questions about the bills under consideration and about whether such a bill is really needed at all, Jim Harper points out the politics behind all of this (while also pointing out the ridiculousness of the overuse of the prefix "cyber" by coining "cyberbellicosity.")

First off, there's the fact that, for all the vague talks of "threats," the only real evidence of "cyberattacks" to date all seem to point to the US. So, if we're worried about attacks directed back at us, perhaps we shouldn't have kicked off the effort by showing the rest of the world how it's done. And, no, Senator Feinstein, the problem isn't the leak, but the action. As Harper points out:
The likelihood of attacks having extraordinary consequences is low. This talk of “cyberwar” and “cyberterror” is the ugly poetry of budget-building in Washington, D.C. But watch out for U.S. cyberbellicosity coming home to roost. The threat environment is developing in response to U.S. aggression.

This parallels the United States’ use of nuclear weapons, which made “the bomb” (Dmitri) an essential tool of world power. Rightly or wrongly, the United States’ use of the bomb spurred the nuclear arms race and triggered nuclear proliferation challenges that continue today. (To repeat: Cyberattacks can have nothing like the consequence of nuclear weapons.)

Of course, the "urgency" that we keep hearing about is almost certainly political. Should some attack actually happen, no politician wants to give his or her opponents the opportunity to point to their failure to pass "do something!" cybersecurity legislation during a campaign. As Harper points out, the real fear from politicians isn't a cyberattack, it's a political attack:
Senator Reid has gone hook, line, and sinker for the “cyber-9/11″ idea, of course. Like all politicians, his primary job is not to set appropriate cybersecurity policies but to re-elect himself and members of his party. The tiniest risk of a cyberattack making headlines to use against his party justifies expending taxpayer dollars, privacy, and digital liberties. This it not to prevent “cyber” attack. It is to prevent political attack.
He then goes on to highlight a bunch of former government officials who sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to pass cybersecurity legislation "as soon as possible" since it's "critically necessary to protect our national and economic security." Of course, what the signatories of that letter really mean is that they want to protect their own "economic security." Every one of them has moved to the private sector and is in a position to profit greatly from a freakout over cybersecurity...

And yes, in answer to the URL I mentioned at the beginning, using cyber does, in fact, make you look like an idiot in most cases. But for the amount of profit and spying power at stake? It doesn't seem like many in DC care that much.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    Prashanth (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 1:55pm

    Tell it like it is

    Let's call Senator Reid what he is.
    He isn't an idiot, for sure.
    He's a cyberidiot.

     

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    Cerberus (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:02pm

    I think the issue is mainly that making a threat appear larger than it really is usually makes you more popular, the "common enemy" against which people all rally behind a "champion", as with Bush and Blair against Saddam. The issue is less that politicians are actually worried that they might be blamed if things go wrong.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:10pm

    "the only real evidence of "cyberattacks" to date all seem to point to the US."

    Cyber-9/11 will be an inside job!

    Quick, someone register cyber911truth.org!

     

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    TaCktiX (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    With everyone on the internet these days and our meat-space wars starting to be as unpopular as Vietnam at its height, why not move the justification for ludicrous "defense" spending to the one place that most people don't fully understand? The internet is confusing to most of the people who use it.

     

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    Cybercommenter, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:15pm

    A huge threat

    The biggest "cyberthreat" to all of us is in fact the cluelessness and corruption of our politicians,

     

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    Mason Wheeler, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Cyberattacks

    the only real evidence of "cyberattacks" to date all seem to point to the US.


    Yes, the US was behind Stuxnet, but I'm quite certain the US is not behind ongoing Chinese attacks on and infiltration into American government and corporate networks...

     

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      TtfnJohn (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Cyberattacks

      As for China their espionage isn't a whole lot different to what the US is doing to them though without the malware in both cases.

      If spies are getting into sensitive government networks then perhaps it's time those networks had better security.

      The same applies to corporations between their forays into spying on other companies.

      To date what you're referring to is classic espionage with newer tools. Not as sexy as James Bond but a whole lot cheaper!!!

       

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        :Lobo Santo (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:40pm

        Re: Re: Cyberattacks

        Well, yeah.

        The average smart-phone owner today carries around a bundle of sensors in their pocket which would have been amazingly hi-tech spy gear just 25 years ago.

        Without doubt, soon enough spying on everybody, everywhere, all the time will be very cheap and easy.

         

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    Chosen Reject (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:26pm

    Uncountably infinite

    The real fear from politicians isn't $subjectWeMustDoSomethingAbout, it's a political attack.

    Think of all the possible values that variable can contain. I'll start:

    cyberattacks
    cyberbullying
    terrorists
    pedophiles
    drivers talking on their phones
    drivers texting
    obesity
    people drinking soda
    drugs
    alcohol
    second-hand smoke
    speeders
    Saddam Hussein
    Al Qeada
    $ThingThatCausesCancer
    baseball players taking steroids
    copyright infringement

    Now let's think of all the things that don't show up on that list:

    due process
    privacy rights
    freedom of speech

    Given this, I'm not terribly surprised we're moving in the direction we are.

     

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    TEA-Time, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:30pm

    Cyberlol

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 2:59pm

    But, but ... cyberpiracy

     

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    skinny poppy (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 4:09pm

    This is the same cybercretin that wants to make sure we all get more junk mail.

     

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    Rich Kulawiec, Jun 14th, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    Mass hysteria, dogs and cats living together...

    ...real old-testament stuff...but where was I?

    Ah, yes. We have arrived at the point in time where fear-mongering over cyber-armageddon is being relentlessly flogged 24x7 in an attempt to line the pockets of the pigs at the trough and their pet lobbyists. Yes, yes, of course yes, a bill MUST be passed, it simply must, otherwise the 3Q P&L statements will suffer. So trample the rights of the citizens, ignore the real problems in favor of imagined ones, and let's, by all means, ram through legislation written by clueless fucksticks like Dutch "computers run on X's and O's" Ruppersberger.

     

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    Prashanth (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 4:21pm

    Cyberrecursion

    This cyberoveremphasis on the cyberprefix "cyber" could cyberlead to some interesting cyberrecursion. When cyberself-anointed cyberpoliticians cyberfind that not enough cyberemphasis is being placed on cyberissues relating to cyberthreats, the cyberprefix "cyber" will be cyberadded to the cyberbeginning of every cyberword. "Cyberwar" is always the first cybercasuality, so it will cyberbecome "cybercyberwar", then "cybercybercyberwar", cyberetc.
    In cybershort, cyberthink of the cyberchildren! Please, Cyber-I cyberbeg cyber-you!

     

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    Watchit (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 5:00pm

    The only way I can see "cyberterror" being a big a problem as some politicians make it out to be is if everyones mind was directly interfaced to the Internet like in Ghost in the Shell...

     

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    Alana (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 5:21pm

    This is cyberfunny.

     

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    BeeAitch (profile), Jun 14th, 2012 @ 7:14pm

    All this 'cyber'-$noun stuff reminds me of that South Park episode where Cartmann keeps saying 'hella' all the time.

     

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    Gerald Robinson (profile), Jun 15th, 2012 @ 2:38pm

    Cyber not the only silly

    Using "cyber" to thump the drum is pretty silly but the folks in DC think that they can't do no silly.

    But tactical gets misused I relly like the tactical bra and thong.

    Organic also gets misused. My favorites so far are: firewood, windshield washer fluid and vodka (in the US vodka is neutral grain spirits it can't contain any thing but water and ethanol;unless its flavored.

     

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