Cyber Security

Over the weekend the Financial Times reported that the security of one or more Pentagon computers had been breached, allegedly by the Chinese military:

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.

I’m pleased to report that Dyre Portents was able to write a solid post on the subject without succumbing to the temptation to engage in China-bashing (hat tip: The Moderate Voice). Dyre42 makes just the right point:

I’ve spoken on this before but we really need to get our ducks in a row when it comes to national network security. I know why the problem hasn’t been fixed and thats cost and lack of political will. Nothing will be done until after something major happens. Unless the govt currently has some sort of network security Manhattan Project going on odds its up to the private sector to provide a solution. Needless to say a company that can provide a significantly more secure OS or an adaptive and/or reactive firewall stands to make billions. Ultimately its just a matter of time before one or the other happens.

It doesn’t really matter if it’s the Chinese or the Russians or the Canadians or some kid in a basement in Walla Walla who breaches Pentagon computer security. We need to take computer security more serioiusly. It is something that happens by design.

I’d like to propose an additional reason other than those proposed by Dyre42 for our deficits in this area: our government and government officials by structure, temperament, and preference aren’t equipped to deal with the problem. Hierarchical structures have difficulty in responding to the challenges of a networked world. Endless meetings and position papers culminating in a retrospective plan that deals with yesterday’s challenges with the day before yesterday’s technology probably aren’t enough.

We (currently) have a competitive advantage in computing. Too bad our government’s not in a position to harness it.

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