January 26, 2013

A “Slippery Slope”

We have all heard/read reports about foreign hackers attacking the firewalls of our national infrastructure, some actually inflicting minor, short term problems that were thankfullycontrolled and eliminated by our eminent IT security pros.

This article was actually linked to from one of the security publications Seth receives, the link to C-net dot com.

‘Cyber 9/11′ may be on horizon, Homeland Security chief warns

With the possibility of a massive cyberattack hitting the U.S. in the near future, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urges the government to pass cybersecurity legislation.

The head of Homeland Security announced today that she believes a “cyber 9/11″ could happen “imminently,” according to Reuters. If such an event were to occur it could cripple the country — taking down the power grid, water infrastructure, transportation networks, and financial networks.

“We shouldn’t wait until there is a 9/11 in the cyber world,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said during a talk at the Wilson Center think tank today, according to Reuters. “There are things we can and should be doing right now that, if not prevent, would mitigate the extent of damage.”

Napolitano was referring to the possibility of Congress passing cybersecurity legislation. Several elected officials have been working to get a cybersecurity law passed for years, but have repeatedly run into road blocks.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman spent years fighting unsuccessfully for a so-called Internet kill switch that would grant the president vast power over private networks during a “national cyberemergency.” Currently, he is working to get Senate to pass a more modest version of his proposal. By the same token, President Obama also signed an executive order last July that could give the government control over the Internet in an emergency.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has also strongly advocated for increased governmental cybersecurity. During his first major policy speech on cybersecurity last October, he echoed previous statements that the United States is facing the possibility of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor” perpetrated by foreign hackers.

“A cyber attack perpetrated by nation states or violent extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack of 9/11,” he said during a speech. “Such a destructive cyber terrorist attack could paralyze the nation.”

According to Reuters, Napolitano said today that a massive cyber attack could cause the same amount of damage as last year’s Superstorm Sandy, which downed electricity and information networks throughout the Northeastern U.S.

“The clarion call is here and we need to be dealing with this very urgently,” Napolitano said. “Attacks are coming all the time. They are coming from different sources, they take different forms. But they are increasing in seriousness and sophistication.”

I call this a “slippery slope” because our politicians of late seem to take liberties (ours, unfortunately) when it comes to enacting regulations or legislation that is supposed to protect and defend us.

If legislation does make its way into the House and Senate regarding Internet security measures, we need to keep a really close watch on what, exactly, is being proposed and how much of it effects our own day to day web access and use. I don’t mean reading up on the New York Times’ account of proceedings, I mean following them from less partison information sources. I mean contacting our senators and representatives and making sure to obtain their real intentions on the cyber security issue, what they plan to propose, how they plan to vote, etc.

Our (supposedly “our“, though these last few years, they seem to have forgotten what Reagan said about “a country that has a government vs a government that has a country”) government has evidently developed a pension for using practically every piece of protective legislation to slip in numerous stealth measures that somehow manage to degrade our liberty by granting them more power than they either require for the task at hand or are eligible to possess under the Constitution.

So let’s follow Jefferson’s advice that it is the duty of every American to look over the shoulders of those we elect to represent us in government and keep tabs on what they are doing on our behalf, especially on the matter of cyber security vs cyber freedom…

by @ 2:37 pm. Filed under Homeland Security, Slippery Slopes, The Internet
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2 Responses to “A “Slippery Slope””

  1. The Gray Monk Says:

    Slippery slope indeed, and the very last people you want with their fingers on the “kill” button are politicans or civil servants. As usual the politicians see an opportunity to regulate something that is a major pain in the rear end for them behind the smoke-screen of “security” and want to take it to an entirely unnecessary and potentially draconian level.

    They definitely need to be stopped, before they drive us all back to the Dark Ages.

  2. Mrs Wolf Says:

    Gray Monk

    This is what today’s politicians do best; Since 9/11, we have been subjected to a lot of “security” regulations that are of little or no real value re their stated objectives, but give government more inroads than they need to do the job at hand while infringing on our liberties, even those regarding simply going about our lawful business as taxpaying citizens of the USA.

    Also, while the Constitution does not provide for a right to privacy, we seem to be losing some privacy issues whose infringements have little or nothing to do with protecting us from harm.

    In New York, one sees this all over.

    Dark ages, as you so aptly put it, here we come…