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Friday, October 31 2014 @ 02:02 AM CDT

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The Devilís in the Cloud, Part IV: The Ghost of Christmas (Cyber) Future

Cybersecurity

You can find the first part of this series here

John Leech, The Last Spirit/Dickens' Christmas Carol - Public Domain, courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsIt would be convenient and consoling to pretend that what I’ve described over the last several days is simple science fiction. But sad to say, the only thing that is doubtful about the scenario I have described is that it might be difficult for the perpetrator to build a thousand drones without Western espionage becoming aware of the plan.

But would that really be so hard? Many countries are building drones now; the technology is not complex. Indeed, Germany launched V-1 drones against Britain more than seventy years ago. With GPS today, building and guiding sufficiently reliable drones of the primitive type needed to stage the attack I have described is within the technical ability of every nation that could be imagined to be an enemy. And there are plenty of old ships to go around.

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The Devilís in the Cloud, Part III: The New Dark Ages

Cybersecurity

You can find the first part of this series here

Ruins of French Opera House, New Orleans, public domain/Rembrandt Studios, courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsWhen the New Year’s Day sun rose in Europe and the United States, the reality of what had happened was hidden to almost all. Only a hundred or so targets had been struck, and the smoke from the ruins that remained was already dissipating. What people did immediately realize was that certain things that they were used to working now did not.

The things that no longer functioned included anything that relied on electricity to operate. Which was, of course, virtually everything except automobiles. This was necessarily the case, because all of the elements that coordinated and controlled the power grid had been destroyed. Even many battery powered devices were silent – the cell phones had no dial tones, and the radios generated only static, because the management software and servers that enabled telecommunications had also been annihilated. Perhaps most discomfiting of all, there was no Internet, nor any of the services that relied upon the Internet.

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The Devilís in the Cloud, Part II: New Year's Day, 2023

Cybersecurity

You can read the first part of this series here

Bow of the CSCl ship Jupiter in Rotterdam, CC 3 sharealike, courtesy of Alma Mulalic & Yann Fauché and Wikimedia CommonsAs the sun set on New Year’s Eve, 2022, a dozen anonymous container ships were approaching major ports in the United States and Europe.  Like many carriers nearing the end of their useful life, their histories were mongrel in nature; originally owned by major shipping magnates in Greece, they had passed through multiple hands and were now flagged in Senegal, and chartered by a concern in Amsterdam. Three years ago each had been subchartered by one of several much smaller companies with offices in many out of the way places. 

The terms of each charter contract made the company responsible for the upkeep of the ships it had leased, and in due course over the first year of the engagements each ship had undergone repairs in small ship yards in the Indian Ocean and in Southeast Asia before returning to ply its trade in the various shipping lanes of the world.

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The Devilís in the Cloud: Our Headlong Rush into Ultimate Cybersecurity Vulnerability

Cybersecurity

This is the first part of a four-day series I will post this week highlighting an astonishingly neglected area of cyber-vulnerability. I will be presenting it tomorrow (remotely) at the Jules Verne Corner segment of the ITU's meetings this week in Kyoto, Japan

Cover caricature of Jules Verne, L'Algerie, 15 June 1884, courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsThere appears to be consensus in many quarters today that migrating to the Cloud is highly desirable – indeed, that we have already embarked upon an irresistible and indeed inexorable migration.  Multinational IT vendors view this transition as the next great market opportunity; governments see in it an opportunity to finally rationalize their Byzantine legacy systems without incurring massive up front capital costs; and enterprise users find the value proposition increasingly compelling as their systems become more complex, expensive and difficult to maintain. 

Meanwhile, the data, records, pictures and social relations of individuals (often without their pausing to think about it) move with the tap of a key from hard drives and back up device from the supervision of their owners to who knows where, owned by who knows who, and vulnerable to who knows what?

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Life Imitates Art in Cybersecurity (Again)

Cybersecurity

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

Well, it’s an interesting world we live in, isn’t it?  I say that because one of the lines I came up with to promote my cybersecurity thriller, The Alexandria Project was, “It’s only fictional in the sense that it hasn’t happened yet.”  There wasn’t much question in my mind that this statement would prove true, but I hadn’t expected that it would happen so quickly, and even so precisely.  In the latest example, it almost makes you wonder whether those involved have read my book.

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A "Dream Act" Executive Order for Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity

 

Have you discovered The Alexandria Project?

We all know that the threat of cyber attack is growing dramatically (don’t we?), and that the most urgent duty of government is to protect the populace (isn’t it?) Assuming that’s the case, how are we to explain the recent collapse of an effort to pass essential cybersecurity legislation? And what, if anything, can be done about it?

Well, that’s a poser, as they say. A rightly heralded accomplishment of the Founding Fathers of the United States was their creation of a tri-partite form of government with carefully balanced powers. Those powers were intended to prevent any one of the branches – executive, legislative or judicial – from becoming too powerful.  Unfortunately, checks and balances can only stop things from happening, and our forefathers weren’t quite as successful at creating a system where one branch can goad another into action when it’s falling down on the job.