Ryan Singel at Wired has a great, detailed article warning us of the growing dangers of the military-security complex and its hyping of "cyber war" to give government more control over monitoring the Internet, and private companies more money helping sell the government the means to do it. Read the whole thing, and here are some choice excerpts:
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.
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….
The NSA dreams of "living in the network," and that's what McConnell is calling for in his editorial/advertisement for his company. The NSA lost any credibility it had when it secretly violated American law and its most central tenet: "We don't spy on Americans."
Unfortunately, the private sector is ignoring that tenet and is helping the NSA and contractors like Booz Allen Hamilton worm their way into the innards of the net. Security companies make no fuss, since a scared populace and fear-induced federal spending means big bucks in bloated contracts.
See also this Wall Street Journal report on some specific Obama administration ideas along the lines of waging "cyberwar" by sticking the government's nose further into the Internet:
The Obama administration lifted the veil Tuesday on a highly-secretive set of policies to defend the U.S. from cyber attacks.
It was an open secret that the National Security Agency was bolstering a Homeland Security program to detect and respond to cyber attacks on government systems, but a summary of that program declassified Tuesday provides more details of NSA's role in a Homeland program known as Einstein.
The current version of the program is widely seen as providing meager protection against attack, but a new version being built will be more robust–largely because it's rooted in NSA technology. The program is designed to look for indicators of cyber attacks by digging into all Internet communications, including the contents of emails, according to the declassified summary.
Re-read that last sentence again, and it doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that any protestations on the Obama administration's part that they have any respect for the 4th Amendment or privacy is utter bilge. I wrote on the government's growing snooping powers in ye Moderne Age at the American Conservative back in February.