Willing to grasp at any straw if it means keeping her job and getting more money for her beloved Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano is spreading her message of cyber-doom and gloom. If we don’t do something to protect the Internet, Hurricane Sandy is going to seem like a cake-walk.
Within hours of Sandy’s landfall, and while the superstorm was still savaging much of the East Coast, Napolitano said,
“One of the possible areas of attack, of course, is attacks on our nation’s control systems — the control systems that operate our utilities, our water plants, our pipelines, our financial institutions,” Napolitano said. “If you think that a critical systems attack that takes down a utility even for a few hours is not serious, just look at what is happening now that Mother Nature has taken out those utilities.”
To compound the threat, Big Sis told The Hill that financial institutions are currently “actively under attack.”
“Right now, financial institutions are actively under attack. We know that. I’m not giving you any classified information,” she said. “I will say this has involved some of our nation’s largest institutions. We’ve also had our stock exchanges attacked over the last [few] years, so we know … there are vulnerabilities. We’re working with them on that.”
Of course, when asked by Washington Post editor Mary Jordan whether hackers are right this very minute stealing money and private information from banks, Napolitano said yes, but she really didn’t want to talk about that right now.
“All I want to say is that there are active matters going on with financial institutions,” she said.
Napolitano stressed that the urgency and immediacy of the cyber-security threat simply can’t be ignored. However, it’s not such a huge threat that it can’t be put off until after the election.
President Obama is “very up to speed” on the threats, and if he wins the election over Mitt Romney, Napolitano is certain the President will immediately address the issue by signing one of his infamous executive orders.
“I think he will have to consider an executive order that covers many of the areas legislation would cover, but it’s not a complete substitute for legislation,” Napolitano said. “There are some things only legislation can provide.”
Additionally, Big Sis feels confident that the Obama administration is committed to this issue. After all, he’s been “putting money into cybersecrity” at the DHS while growing its cyber workforce.
Now, before you jump off that couch and go cast your vote for these two self-proclaimed super heroes who want nothing other than to protect America’s citizens from cyber-death and destruction at the hands of some nameless, faceless (so far) cyber-villains, let’s compare apples to real apples, the red shiny ones instead of the ones that fall out of a horse’s butt.
It’s simply not possible to take down the nation’s utilities, water plants, pipelines and financial institutions just by hacking into the Internet. That’s like saying once you break through the door of Fort Knox you can just start scooping up the gold. (Assuming there’s actually some gold there to be had.)
Cyber-villains might use the Internet to access your city’s electric company or water plant, but then they’d also have to hack into the database of that individual entity to gain control of the system. These systems are not inter-connected. If they actually wanted to create a nationwide blackout they’d have to hack into every little electricity provider across the United States.
Still, Big Sis wants us to believe this is possible, so let’s continue with this scenario.
If this were even remotely possible, and let’s give Napolitano the benefit of the doubt even though we all know she’d never be intelligent enough to organize this effort, but if this were possible, don’t you think someone would have done it by now? Maybe even our own fearless leaders in an attempt to give weight to this threat so they could prove their undying devotion by wiping the sweat from their brow and the dust from their britches and passing their Cyber-security legislation?
And if this were remotely possible, why should the Internet – and the American people who use the Internet – be forced to bend to cyber-security legislation which will only further limit our freedom of speech in an effort to ward off these presumably imminent, albeit imaginary, attacks? Shouldn’t the utility companies, the water plants and the banks have better security measures in place?
Now, let’s take a look at what’s happened since Sandy made landfall. Better yet, let’s take a look at what happens every time a natural disaster beyond human control or comprehension occurs. People immediately forget their differences, band together, and help one another. It’s a natural human reaction which occurs despite the lack of legislation telling them to do so. No one has to be forced to help a fellow human being.
The only time chaos rears its ugly head is when there’s an imminent threat of disaster. That’s when panic ensues and you see pile-ups on the freeways and people fighting over toilet paper at the store. That’s when people make hasty, ill-informed decisions. Once the disaster occurs, sanity returns.
Hurricane Sandy was an imminent threat of disaster. We knew it was coming. If Napolitano had walked up to anyone living in the path of this imminent threat and promised them safety and security and a safe-little bubble of protection around them, their family and their possessions if they’d only sign this little piece of paper, of course they’d sign, without even giving a thought to whether or not Napolitano could actually deliver on that promise.
Cyber-attacks may be an imminent threat but the very nature of the Internet prevents us from eliminating this threat. Technology moves at lightning speed these days. Even if some type of legislation is passed, it will never be enough. As soon as the techies come up with a new security measure the hackers go to work disabling it. That’s why you’re always seeing those Microsoft updates pop up on your computer.
But even if those hackers make it past the newest Internet safe-guards they’re still going to have to disable millions of databases across the United States before they can take our country off the grid. And all of those databases are protected with safe guards much tougher than what you see on the Internet.
If anyone is to be held responsible for the security of our utility and financial institutions it’s those institutions themselves. They’re all profit-making institutions and we’re paying for a service. So far, they’ve done a good job of providing it without legislation, legislation which would be out-dated and worthless before the ink is dry.
Other than lip-service, what else do we get from Napolitano in exchange for our hard-earned tax dollars?