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Cyber Warfare – The Next Step

December 6, 2010

I’m legitimately terrified. See, I’m a computer science major. I may not be too high up in my major, but with the ease I can get the computer and internet to do what I want I know personally that getting information isn’t hard. Getting passwords? No problem at all, given the right workaround. And trust me, there are plenty of workarounds.

 

That’s why I’m scared. I grew up with computers, I know a few programming languages on a relatively rudimentary level, and I have the ability to do things on computers that people shouldn’t be able to. For example, I’m going to cite the whole DRM thing with iTunes (the thing that made it so you couldn’t transfer songs you didn’t buy without having to authorize computers and enter passwords). So, the whole Protected AAC format could be broken by converters, manually with a simple cord and Audacity (no pun intended), and a couple other ways I can’t think of now (it’s been a couple years, but trust me, my 9th grade self figured it out pretty easily). I beat Apple when I was in 9th grade. And any other 9th grader who put his mind to it could have done it just as easily.

 

Apply this to a greater scale. That’s why I’m scared. China can (and does) attack us every day using the internet. They do it easily and cheaply, and it scarily gets results. And not just China. Not that I know stats, but some obscure country can hire a team for a relatively small amount of money, get some passwords, who knows. A lot of the government has security systems that are really old. And, on top of that, most other countries aren’t as secure as they should be either electronically. Sure, you can put up a system to stop entry, but there’s a loophole. Somewhere. Encrypting everything is an answer, but once again, there are loopholes that are extremely hard to close. And maybe someone thought of a loophole that you didn’t.

 

We have money traveling electronically across the world. China has hackers sitting at terminals stealing our secrets. And American citizens hardly even knows about it. Think of how much we rely on network technology. Not even just in our house, like wifi (even though I’d probably die without it), but what about your everyday finances, streetlights, electricity, internet, television, radio, security cameras, air control towers. I’m not saying that they’re going to shut everything down; all I’m saying is that with some creative code it’s a possibility that we need to be terrified of.

 

Yes, we have safeguards in place. The government is trying to protect us. But it needs more smart people. There’s an entire war going on behind our backs that we don’t even seem to care about, and people need to be made aware.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Aptronym permalink
    December 10, 2010 6:19 pm

    Any thoughts on whether open source might play a role in this? “Many eyes make for few bugs” or however it goes. Or will the systems involved be too sensitive to open the workings of to public eyes?

  2. December 13, 2010 4:28 am

    I’d think that the best course of action would be to show it to as many smart people with a security clearance as possible while still fine from a security perspective but not release it to the public eye. Throwing it out there to the world encourages people to try and find loopholes and exploit them, and handing them the source code of the problem is basically asking “solve”. And this too.

    http://xkcd.com/797/

    Finally, it’d never work, the government is involved. They’d have to approve it, it’d become a political thing.

    Besides, crypto and security is a pretty governmentish thing anyways, they don’t need to search for an outside consultant, just CC the NSA, the best people are probably already there.

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