or… Cyberwar! What Is It Good For?
Taking a line from Steven Levy’s, Why Obama’s NSA Reforms Won’t Solve Silicon Valley’s Trust Problem (2014):
Obama said very little about NSA programs that create or exploit “back doors” into private databases or transmission channels.
…The tech companies have been beefing up their security to fight the NSA’s incursions, and Obama gave no indication that they could relax on those efforts. The security teams at Google and Yahoo will continue to make it a top priority to fortify their defenses against government intrusion.
In short, while Silicon Valley got a number of concessions, its core problems with NSA surveillance appear to remain. So it’s no surprise that a consortium of tech companies (including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Apple) perfunctorily thanked the president for “positive progress on key issues” and tactfully said that “to keep the momentum going” on those issues and ones not addressed, they’ll keep working with the administration and the legislature. In other words, they will fight like hell for measures that go farther in limiting the NSA [&myemph;].
Juxtaposing Michael Joseph Gross’s Enter the Cyber-dragon (2011):
Most companies have preferred not to talk about or even acknowledge violations of their computer systems, for fear of panicking shareholders and exposing themselves to lawsuits… A scattered alliance of government insiders and cyber-security experts are working to bring attention to the threat, but because of the topic’s extreme sensitivity, much of their consciousness-raising activity must be covert. The result in at least one case, according to documents obtained by Vanity Fair, has been a surreal new creation of American bureaucracy: government-directed “hacktivism,” in which an intelligence agency secretly provides information to a group of private-sector hackers so that truths too sensitive for the government to tell will nevertheless come out.
…The vulnerability of corporations to attack stems in part from ignorance, in part from denial. Google executives reportedly believed that the American government monitors this country’s Internet infrastructure the same way it monitors foreign military threats to keep the geographic homeland secure. A former White House official told me, “After Google got hacked, they called the N.S.A. in and said, ‘You were supposed to protect us from this!’ The N.S.A. guys just about fell out of their chairs. They could not believe how naïve the Google guys had been.” [&myemph;]
Levy also noted Obama’s “The challenges to our privacy do not come from government alone”. Gross quotes Hayden describing companies like Google and Microsoft acting like sovereign states — what rights do they have to defend themselves against attack? Hayden’s most pertinent point: “The cyberworld is so new that the old structures, you know—state, non-state, public, private—they all break down … The last time we had such a powerful discontinuity is probably the European discovery of the Western Hemisphere.”
I’ll leave it up to you to read about Operation STARLIGHT (this looks kinda interesting!) and why you might want them shining a light on your back door.
In the mean time, since I observed many fights between the Calico Cat (Quality Assurance) and the Gingham Dog (Software Development): how much $ does — what’s the budget? what’s the gong show? — Google, Amazon, Microsoft (any company dealing with personal data) spend on QA? I’m guessing that current trends match past trends—not as much as they need to.
Nick Land might not be racist — or even Anti-American — but he’s definitely pro-Chinese. The Chinese are “relying increasingly on large-scale information theft” directed against American companies. Of course government secrecy and protecting privacy is major. However, unlike the government “American industry has so few incentives to come clean about its losses, and so many incentives to cover them up”. And I really do get the dealio about smart genes and such, but I’m thinking Corporate DNA is way more at risk than Human DNA at this point.