BreakPoint Blog

The Cyber-Security Scandal

You would have thought that the lessons we learned all the way back on December 7, 1941, would have been sufficient to keep us on our toes for enemy attacks. They haven't.

Too many people in our government and in the private sector have been trying to ignore the problem of Chinese cyber-attacks. The Chinese have been systematically bombarding our electronic systems and stealing vast sums of knowledge including weapons, medicine, and utilities.     

It's time to take the threats for what they are: A diabolical attack against a sovereign nation--America. To my knowledge, so far no one has lost their life, but it could go there.

Government is a God-ordained institution, so our leaders ought to take their responsibilities seriously. We need courageous leaders who are willing to counter-attack instead of waiting while the casualties mount.


Actually, Jason, ;-)
. . . I was correcting *you*, not *Kim*, on "nerd" vs. "geek".

And how could you possibly be a mere nerd, with all your historical skills? I refuse to accept your self-assessment.

Kim, "warfare" is indeed a good way to think about these hacking efforts, filed under the sub-categories of "espionage" and "sabotage". Since both sides in the war engage in these tactics, we can't condemn the means - only the ends. But the ends are much more interesting anyway.
Actually it was Lee that corrected you. I don't mind the distinction. Besides I don't have technical skills, I just have academic skills making me a nerd I suppose.

More seriously, I hope I didn't sound like I was putting you down?

The fact is cyberwarfare is a new form of war. However war has always unfortunately been part of life. There are dangers to America, not least because we depend on it more then most. However we are also better protected then most.
Lee and Jason,

I stand corrected on my faulty use of the word "nerd" v. "geek."

It makes sense that this is a new type of warfare. And since we're not as worried about our ability to successfully deploy geeky-type code-missiles, I will stop actively becoming a passive-virus-worm-worrier.

Actually this development is more likely to be in our favor then against. It allows America a form of non-lethal retaliation. Most of America's enemies are almost as net dependent as we are and far less capable of mastering it. I heard a rumor somewhere that Iran's nuke program was messed up terribly by either American or Israeli nerds. Maybe Auggie Anderson was behind that fiendish plot?

The fact is, cyberwar can hit foreign princes in the pocketbook which is of course far more important then their subject's lives. And it can be done without newsies bothering about it which means we will be less restrained then we are at physical warfare. And America will probably be better at it then most. China is unquestionably good(they recruit them from school and train them as net-samurai so to speak). But we have far more resources in that department. China's nerds are not invincible. Taiwan was able to take them on and come off quite well.
Oh, Kim, I'm very concerned about the Chinese hackers, Russian cybercriminals, and lots of others. Reading stories of their exploits, and trying to not worry, is one of the hazards of *my* job. (And when I was in Shanghai I may even have walked past the building that houses the hackers. A British journalist disappeared for a few days for hanging around it. Another hazard.)

And Jason is right (as usual); our geeks are probably as good as if not better than their geeks. (A "nerd" is someone who is merely socially inept; a "geek" is socially inept but has excellent technical skills.) In fact, Stuxnet is evidence in favor of Jason's claim. (Evidence against his claim, though, is that the USA took this story public; if you can silently beat someone at his own game, why cry "Foul!" so loudly? On the other hand, why leak the news about Stuxnet?)

No, I disagree with you (and wanted and still want to assure you that it doesn't affect my opinion of you in the slightest) because Stuxnet shows that the USA does exactly the same thing as China is doing. In fact, we may have been doing this for far longer than the Chinese; Stuxnet dates back to at least 2005, and possibly much earlier.

So my point is that we have no moral standing from which to condemn the Chinese. Stuxnet prevented - or at least slowed - the Iranians from going nuclear, but the ends hardly justify the means. China could easily argue that their espionage is as good for their country as our sabotage was good for us and/or Israel.

Finally, I think there's a practical reason why our leaders won't hold China to account for these attacks: we owe them a whole lot of money, and we borrow more from them all the time. The most destructive thing they could do to us would be to call in their loans. That would be far worse than any hack attack, and would make sequestration look totally insignificant.

So I'm concerned. I'm just not hopeful that anyone can change the situation by political means.

I hadn't heard about he Stuxnet worm--Malware yes because I'm forever having to use it to clean my computer--the hazards of my job.

I take it that you are not as worried about China's virus-bomb invasion as I am?

Does America have enough good nerds to do the job of search and destroy, protect?
Why, Thank You, Jason
I was going to furnish anecdotal support of your assertion with a nerdy, pseudo-off-topic pseudo-joke (eg; Question: what do you call the cabaret in Chinatown? Answer: Mulan Rouge) but then I saw Kim eyeing Gina's YOD and told myself, Rolley, you better nerd do that.
If we must needs get into a nerd-feud, China will do well but we will do better. We just have better nerds.
I doubt we have much to worry about. I'm sure we can do better in that department then they can...
Kim, my dearest sister in Christ, I hope you know that I love you very deeply. Have you been following the story of the Stuxnet worm?