Commander-in-Geek Becomes Your CIO?


meet your new CIO

Yesterday I wrote about how the Pentagon is totally not militarizing the Internet by creating a new Air Force entity with a broad, unclear mandate to "dominate" cyberspace.

Today, the inevitable occurs, with Pentagon officials hinting that it might be a good idea for "private businesses that operate critical utilities and financial services" to become part of the U.S. government security system:

Businesses that opt not the participate could "stay in the wild, wild west of the unprotected Internet," [William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary] told a small group of reporters during a cybersecurity conference.

And in the case of Einstein 2—an automated system that monitors federal Internet and e-mail traffic for malicious activity—companies already may have equal or superior protections on their networks.

"Einstein 2 is like a 1999 Mustang with a little rust," said James Lewis, a cybersecurity expert and senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "For some companies it isn't a big deal. But for others who haven't done much (to secure their networks) it would be a good idea."

In other words, most companies are already doing better on their own than the product the government is offering but that doesn't mean the government won't strenuously suggest that the Pentagon might be a good place for your Chief Information Officer to hang out. To their credit, officials are looking to buy superior products rather than build their own, pre-rusted versions:

In other comments Wednesday, Lynn said the Pentagon is setting up a task force to find ways the massive agency can buy information technology programs and equipment more quickly. He said that while it takes the Defense Department as much as 81 months to fund and develop a new program, it only took Apple 24 months to develop the iPhone.

Why does this matter?: Being part of civilized Internet society in the U.S. could soon mean buying in to a non-customized package of cobbled together, slightly out-of-date (as they will inevitably be), privacy-reducing commercial security products with a government stamp on them.

Via the excellent Shane Harris. Harris spoke with me about his book on the rise of the surveillance state, The Watchers, on video here.

NEXT: Reason Morning Links: O'Connor Backs Kagan, Moratorium on Drilling, Apple Tops in Tech

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  1. Businesses that opt not the participate could “stay in the wild, wild west of the unprotected Internet,” [William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary] told a small group of reporters during a cybersecurity conference.

    Protection racket?

    1. opt not the participate

      Band name?

      1. Should be required on every gov’t form.

  2. To me this is equivalent to quartering soldiers in my house.

    Let’s just give the military the keys to our economy while we’re at it. That’s never going to bite us in the ass either.

    1. Oh I’m sure when some airman sells access to 10-20 million credit card accounts for a downpayment on a house, the feds will be happy to compensate us all for the inconvienence.

  3. Oh and the simple fact that they still use the term “cyber” doesn’t make me feel real protected.

    Next they’ll whipping out the term “Sysop in Chief” for our national BBS.

    1. Yeah, but then we’d be able to play those cool ASCII games again, like the Pit and Space Frontiers.

      Your warship has been sucked into a black hole.

      1. Join the Air Force – You too can help fight the Grues

        1. Can the Air Force help me open this fancy egg I found?

          1. If it’s not Faberge, beware the Cenobites.

            On the other hand, it could just be a too well hidden treasure over-looked and left behind from Easter.

      2. The Mac SE was a powerful gaming computer. Man the hours we spent playing Pong. It worked equally as well with a lot of other games, also. Pong comes to mind.

      3. “Your warship has been sucked into a black hole.”

        My wife used to say that. Then one day she stopped saying it. It wasn’t long after that one of her friends told me she was sucking alien warships into her black hole. It seemed like a perfect time for my warship to lay siege on her friend’s black hole.

        “Every black hole has a silver lining, except ones with a pink lining.”

  4. You fucking losertarians need to start trusting government! This is for our own good!

    1. Mad Max, the outback is calling…

      Delusions are marvellous for those who prefer not to think of consequences.

  5. That’s not the real Max.

    The System works.

  6. Nice interweb you got there.

    Be a shame if anything was to happen to it.

  7. 1999? You guys should bring in some of those Air Force squirrels. Threaded comments were “solved” in ’97.

  8. I suppose “control of cyberspace” sounds less threatening to most people than “control the internet”. The difference is nil.

  9. I’d pull the TSBs for a ’99 Mustang but all those kilobytes would crash my 386 processor.

  10. This will eventually be compulsory.

    Despite the fact that the best way to basically ensure that one day our infrastructure will be catastrophically compromised would be to standardize security under one government-sponsored regime.

    But it will be made compulsory anyway, and when anyone objects on the basis of their property rights, statists will jump up and say. “Hey, wait a second! We limit property rights all the time! What about racial discrimination? Doesn’t that prove that we can limit property rights? Huh? Huh?”

    1. Statists are lemmings not contented to merely be members of the suicide march, all must join, be they willing or not.

  11. Einstein 2? Seriously? What happened to Einstein 1?

    1. He’s busy playing dice with God.

      1. You’d think I would get my own name right the first time.

    2. Einstein 1 had some unintended consequences, it knocked all dot gov servers off-line 5 minutes after it was installed. We’re hoping Einstein 2 has been designed with a bit more “Genuine Intelligence Inside!”

  12. Preserve the “…wild, wild west of the unprotected Internet..”, it’s what makes it so damn attractive.


    1. You got it wrong.

      1. You’re right.


        (Damn syntax Nazis.)

  13. I thought the headline said “Commander in Greek” and that this was a story about don’t ask, don’t tell.

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