Cyber Shockwave FAIL

by on February 21, 2010 · 10 comments

From my undulating perch on an elliptical machine last night, I saw that CNN was broadcasting a strange roundtable event called “cyber.shockwave”—they occasionally displayed a subhead saying something like “you were warned.”

It was a group of (mostly) former Bush Administration officials sitting around making their pitch that we should be frightened about yet another menace and that our salvation is to run to the arms of government (especially if it’s controlled by their party). The CNN airing of it was illustration of how politics and public policy are collapsing together with entertainment—reality TV, specifically. The government “experts” were actors in a play dressed up as a newscast.

This post at “Crabbyolbastard Ruminates” captures my sense of what was going on. (“I see that we as a country are being led by blithering Luddites . . .”) As reported by Crabbyol’, the ideas they discussed included: pulling the plug on the Internet, pulling the plug on the cell phone networks, and nationalizing the telco and power companies.

D33PT00T tweets, cleverly, “ok my phn doesn’t work & Internet doesn’t work – ths guys R planning 2 run arnd w/ bullhorns ‘all is well remain calm!’”

Maybe it’s coincidence that Republicans dominated the scene. It was an event put together by the “Bipartisan Policy Center.” But that just goes to show that there is bipartisan agreement on one thing in Washington, D.C.: The government should control more of the society.

The U.S. federal government is not where the action is on “cybersecurity.” It is the responsibility of coders, device manufacturers, network operators, data holders, and ordinary computer users. The CNN broadcast of this event mislead viewers into thinking that cybersecurity is the government’s responsibility and that the government will lead any response to security failures.

Heaven help us if that becomes the reality.

  • Batman

    Actually, they aren't entirely wrong, short of pulling the plug, of course. The facts are that the laws written to cover the technology flaws and snafus in the last ten years are simply reworks of existing laws. Wait, twelve years. Forgot it's 2010 :) That's right, the passage of the DMCA is why we're in most of the mess we're in now….

  • Tony

    I agree, it's not entirely bad. There are a lot of worst things in life, like corrupt prison guard, wink* wink* nudge* Nudge*: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/02/18/sherif

    That guy in that blog I listed seems just awful.

  • Brett Glass

    What I find interesting is that both the Obama Administration and this group of out-of-work neocons are grasping for the same thing — gatekeeper control of cyberspace — but in different ways. The Obama administration is ginning up bogus fears of ISP censorship (hence, “network neutrality” regulation) while the group described in the article above attempts to foster xenophobia via fears of foreign cyberattacks. But ultimately, both are fearmongering in an attempt to convince the public to grant power to them and their patrons (Google and the FCC in the case of the Administration; the military-industrial complex in the case of the neocons).

    What is ironic is that the prospect of either one succeeding is more scary than the straw men they've fabricated. We have here a strong case for cyber-libertarianism a la John Perry Barlow.

  • mwendy

    Brett – good post. Yours and Jim's threads ring true.

    Our industry has a responsibility to make our stuff safe – but, let's not forget, it's bad actors that pull the trigger. We no longer blame the locksmiths when criminals break in and enter our doors. We should be there by now. Policy makers should focus some of their umph on that. None do. HR 2221, Rockefeller-Snowe, etc – read those bills. They blame the industry, not the cyber-miscreants.

    Three things run through my mind in that regard. One – those legislative efforts are designed to raise PAC $. Or, they're built to increase government contol. Or, all three. None seems acceptable for an industry that has served literally billions of people with life-enhancing technology…driven mostly by the free market, not government software designers.

  • mwendy

    Instead of the DMCA, I think what / whom you actually mean to blame are: the governments of China, Russia, North Korea, foes (and friends) in the Middle East, who-knows-who in the eastern bloc countries, uncountable business espionage liasons, and home grown “social engineers” (among scummy others). Right? 'Cause, they create the trojans, the botnets, the viruses, the phishing scams, the spam, the coordinated attacks, the SCADA outages…that hobble us at times.

  • http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/ drunken_economist

    This bad joke on CNN was the second most disheartening thing I've seen in a while. Second only to 'Earth 2100'. 'We were warned' is the new 'Booga Booga'.

    They don’t even understand that the telcos and upstream providers already DO THINGS LIKE THIS when there’s a major worm ANYWAY. Things like this HAVE happened in the past and it’s no worse than say, your average fiber cut.

    Furthermore, and it's already happening, hardened smartphones (that is, not based on crappy WinMobile) are making the rounds in the form of Android and even more apropo, the locked down iPhone & upcoming iPad. I *have* a jailbroken iPhone, and yet I agree with Uncle Steve. A jailbroken iPhone is a liability in the hands of a civilian. Oh, and the whole 'Apple audits the incoming Apps' was totally ignored. Yeah, totally ignore the most popular appstore and their winning formula.

    All I really saw on CNN was a bunch of deluded Boomers trying to play cold war soldier. And failing. Miserably. It’s really disheartening to see that that is what our tax dollars pay for.

    My point is this: GOOD vendors, and the private sector (including ISPs) already have faced this, and have policies in place. Our problems stem more from offshoring BPOs to hostile countries and crappy software (hello Windows, developed mostly offshore) than to non-existent 'malware apps'…

    -Drunken Economist
    http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/drunk_economist

  • http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/ drunken_economist

    This bad joke on CNN was the second most disheartening thing I've seen in a while. Second only to 'Earth 2100'. 'We were warned' is the new 'Booga Booga'.

    They don’t even understand that the telcos and upstream providers already DO THINGS LIKE THIS when there’s a major worm ANYWAY. Things like this HAVE happened in the past and it’s no worse than say, your average fiber cut.

    Furthermore, and it's already happening, hardened smartphones (that is, not based on crappy WinMobile) are making the rounds in the form of Android and even more apropo, the locked down iPhone & upcoming iPad. I *have* a jailbroken iPhone, and yet I agree with Uncle Steve. A jailbroken iPhone is a liability in the hands of a civilian. Oh, and the whole 'Apple audits the incoming Apps' was totally ignored. Yeah, totally ignore the most popular appstore and their winning formula.

    All I really saw on CNN was a bunch of deluded Boomers trying to play cold war soldier. And failing. Miserably. It’s really disheartening to see that that is what our tax dollars pay for.

    My point is this: GOOD vendors, and the private sector (including ISPs) already have faced this, and have policies in place. Our problems stem more from offshoring BPOs to hostile countries and crappy software (hello Windows, developed mostly offshore) than to non-existent 'malware apps'…

    -Drunken Economist
    http://mindtaker.blogspot.com/
    http://twitter.com/drunk_economist

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