Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Hankering for the Cyber Pearl Harbor

In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, General Wesley Clark and Peter Levin pen an essay, Securing the Information Highway, which contains a passage with a familiar tone:

Adversaries planning cyberattacks on the United States enjoy two other advantages. The first, and most dangerous, is Americans' sense of false security: this self-delusion that since nothing terrible has happened to the country's IT infrastructure, nothing will... Overcoming a complacent mentality will be as difficult a challenge as actually allocating the resources for genuine hardware assurance. Second, the passage of time will allow adversaries and cybercriminals to optimize the stealth and destructiveness of their weapons; the longer the U.S. government waits, the more devastating the eventual assault is likely to be.

The implied resolution to the problem is similar in tone not only to that of the infamous PNAC statement,

...the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor. -Pg. 51

- oft quoted by 9/11 "inside job" theorists as the proof of motive - but more so to that of the Hart-Rudman report for the U.S. Commission on National Security, or New World Coming, where in the report for Phase I (Aug. 1999), we read: "for many years to come Americans will become increasingly less secure, and much less secure than they now believe themselves to be." (italics in original)

The dilemma: Americans are asleep to the threat. How do we wake them up? Should we stage an event that is significant but not too devastating to the country?

Given some of the scenarios pondered in the Hart-Rudman report, such as full-scale nuclear detonations or bio attacks with casualties in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, we recall being somewhat relieved when the big day came. But, we were expecting it.

Ye best get off the grid, or at least be not quite so dependant on it.

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