07 February 2012

Cyberpocalypse Now...
...Or it might all be just a figment of our fertile imaginations...
This is NOT the world of our childhood, especially if you're a baby-boomer such as myself.
This is an ever-changing world...and a world that goes through such changes at breakneck speed many times.
What was the status quo LAST week, soon becomes obsolete, defunct, non sequitor, or some other term that means no longer wanted, needed, or desired. And that's a damn shame.
Look at your life and then look at a city, either from today or from antiquity, and you'll find an interesting parallel.
Our lives are like a microcosmic version of damn near ANY city.
In our lives we mirror the functions such as management of funds, providing a safe environment, setting priorities, but mostly we are in the (personal) business of upkeep and maintenance (of ourselves, primarily).
We might make a bad decision from time to time when it comes to health and wellness, but overall, we tend to take pretty good care of our households as well as ourselves.
And if we stumble along that path in life, we do what is needed to keep the whole show moving on, right?
Got a bad tooth? See a dentist.
Have high blood pressure? See a doctor.
Got a leaky roof? Call a repairman...and so on...
So, we are full aware of the "infrastructures" that comprise our lives...at least we TRY to attune ourselves to such things.

And the exact same thing can be said for cities...they have items that constantly need "attention", like public safety, clean water (and air), proper sewage, garbage and trash disposal, electricity and natural gas, public transportation, education...well, you get the idea.
But in today's world, there is another realm that has to be CLOSELY watched, and that is the CYBER-realm.
Now, I'm not just talking about our personal computers, smart phones, iPads, or whatever device is your preference.
We can pretty much find some software someplace that can allow us to roam relatively free from harm on the ethers of the Internet.
So...what about our CITIES...or our NATION itself?
How secure are they in their cyber-infrastructure?
Well, according to a recent Bloomberg study...not so much.
Here's the link to the source article:
The story goes on to say that those of dubious backgrounds (worldwide) have stepped up their cyber assaults upon major infrastructure systems in America, and that should come as no surprise to anyone, really.
In an age where damn near everything is dependent upon SOME sort of computerized system and software, it makes good sense to be able to utilize those systems without having to fret about being hacked, or otherwise compromised in some manner.
But, just as the tangible infrastructures in America are in deep decline, like bridges, roads, and water mains (to name a few), and need major repairs or outright replacements, the cyber aspects that control our cities are in even worse shape.
And like I'm fond of saying..."You can only put so many band-aids on a compound fracture, before you know that bone's gotta be set proper."
One would think that being able to PROTECT our cyber-infrastructure from harm (foreign OR domestic) would be pretty easy, considering we were at the forefront of the implementation of such systems....such is not the case.
We already KNOW that the current administration in D.C., has been way too busy bailing out damn near everyone, totally ignorant to the fact that cyber attacks on important aspects to OUR security and operations in THIS country have been on the rise.
Hell, the Pentagon's already been hacked, and thanks to some savvy techs on OUR side, major concerns were averted.
What about further down the governmental ladder, though?
What about our cities?
Who's to say some hacker bent on anarchy, can't get into the operating systems of some utility or even the phone company and play seven kinds of hell while there?
This administration hasn't even been trying to correct those TANGIBLE assets in our nation, like the aforementioned roads, bridges, etc., let alone properly address the whole CYBER issue, right?
Harry Reid (cripes, of all people) wants to introduce legislation for a comprehensive cybersecurity bill to Congress around 17 Feb.
Now, I will freely admit that we DO need some form of protection for our nation when it comes to cyber attacks...
(that's right, I'm about to drop that other shoe)
How far-reaching would such legislation go?
Would it reach into the lives of the average citizen, monitor THEM, and make THEM part of this newly-created "web" that is being watched 24/7/365?
Is this a ploy to enact laws that would curtail or otherwise disable OUR ability to freely connect, discuss, and practice our 1st Amendment rights to FREE SPEECH?
Yes, there is another side to every coin, and this one is no different.
Our current cyber-infrastructure is in bad shape, like the crumbling bridge, or pothole laced street, or that collapsed water main.
We (America) need to fix it soon, before the wrong person wrests control of things and turns it against us.
Can you imagine a utility company "going dark" when some hacker shuts it down with a virus?
A VIRUS for God's sake...and we're scrambling for some form of "immunization".
No easy "shot in the arm" for this one, that's for sure.
No inoculation to protect the masses...or the companies from such devious attacks.
No EASY FIX...at all.
Obama would have more "far-reaching legislation"...and that COULD mean the invasion of YOUR privacy (they'll stop short of saying that much).
This President would rather use the BROADEST BRUSH possible, when a more "surgical" approach is needed - target ONLY those bent on hacking into OUR cyber-infrastructure.
Granted, the COST to ensure continued operation of say, our POWER GRID would be in the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars (and that kinda scratch ain't that readily had with this President, because of HIS spending junket that he's been on, as well as the global economic problems).
Sure, we COULD have the "Fed" just print MORE money to cover the cost...and that would most certainly lead to inflation and devaluing of OUR dollar further (George Soros is drooling at the mouth on that one).
That Bloomberg article raises some scary scenarios...make no mistake.
We are often only a mouse click or an ENTER key tap away from the possibility of a type of attack that would rival Pearl Harbor, not only by the surprise of it's arrival, but the amount of carnage it would provide for those attacking us.
This nation does need to do something, but I caution those in power to refrain from overstretching their authority when it comes to the average, law-abiding citizen. THEY are not the enemy.
Our country need not become a victim of global cyber-warfare, but we have to prepare ourselves in that event, nonetheless.
As potent as an all out assault on the beaches of Normandy back in June of 1944 was, so also can be a cyber attack upon such things as our air traffic control, our power grid, our nuclear facilities, or our defense systems.
It truly IS a new era in warfare, and must be met as such.
And we must also weigh the price of protection from such things, when it comes to our freedom.
We must tread cautiously when enabling our government certain powers.
"With great power comes great responsibility" was a line used in the movie Spiderman.
And I feel that this government (and all our state and local governments) need to FULLY realize that, if nothing else.
They are tasked with protecting this NATION (and her people), but NOT through the control OF those people.
THAT is the message THEY need to remember.
Therein lies the lesson for today.
Be well, make a difference to someone, and...
Stay SAFE out there, America.

No comments: