Cyberwar Hype Intended to Destroy the Open Internet

Posted: March 3rd, 2010 by Militant Libertarian

by Ryan Singel, Wired

The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence.

McConnell’s not dangerous because he knows anything about SQL injection hacks, but because he knows about social engineering. He’s the nice-seeming guy who’s willing and able to use fear-mongering to manipulate the federal bureaucracy for his own ends, while coming off like a straight shooter to those who are not in the know.

When he was head of the country’s national intelligence, he scared President Bush with visions of e-doom, prompting the president to sign a comprehensive secret order that unleashed tens of billions of dollars into the military’s black budget so they could start making firewalls and building malware into military equipment.

And now McConnell is back in civilian life as a vice president at the secretive defense contracting giant Booz Allen Hamilton. He’s out in front of Congress and the media, peddling the same Cybaremaggedon! gloom.

And now he says we need to re-engineer the internet.

We need to develop an early-warning system to monitor cyberspace, identify intrusions and locate the source of attacks with a trail of evidence that can support diplomatic, military and legal options — and we must be able to do this in milliseconds. More specifically, 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. The technologies are already available from public and private sources and can be further developed if we have the will to build them into our systems and to work with our allies and trading partners so they will do the same.

Re-read that sentence. He’s talking about changing the internet to make everything anyone does on the net traceable and geo-located so the National Security Agency can pinpoint users and their computers for retaliation if the U.S. government doesn’t like what’s written in an e-mail, what search terms were used, what movies were downloaded. Or the tech could be useful if a computer got hijacked without your knowledge and used as part of a botnet.

The Washington Post gave McConnell free space to declare that we are losing some sort of cyberwar. He argues that the country needs to get a Cold War strategy, one complete with the online equivalent of ICBMs and Eisenhower-era, secret-codenamed projects. Google’s allegation that Chinese hackers infiltrated its Gmail servers and targeted Chinese dissidents proves the United States is “losing” the cyberwar, according to McConnell.

But that’s not warfare. That’s espionage.

Read the rest at this link.


Comments (2)


  1. Cyberwar says:

    I have to respectfully disagree with you. Being in the computer security field, I see the battle first hand. It is insane how easily our nations secrets are being stolen. We are the most advanced nation digitally, so we have many more open portals than other nations.

    I worked in the computer field for 15 years before I got into computer security. I thought it was a joke, but the first time you see a server compromised remotely and you have a command prompt in front of you, logged in as user “system”, your eyes are opened pretty fast.

    I am against losing more of our rights, but something needs to be done to shore up our countries digital borders. Right now, McConnell is right, we are an open door.

    • Militant Libertarian says:

      Well, with Google getting hit by China and then China turning around and claiming that they are constant victims of U.S. attacks on their systems, I have to wonder if this isn’t just a lot of propaganda. My brother-in-law is in the USAF as a “cyberwarrior” (high rank, highest security) and he says we are only vulnerable if we “plug in.” Secrets aren’t on systems that can plug into anything more than an intranet. Banks and other private institutions? That’s their problem, not the government’s. The fact that each security level requires not just a separate login, but an entirely separate system and area of the complex (he literally has to walk between three buildings just to retrieve emails on each of the clearance levels) should tell you something.

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