Saturday, July 14, 2012

We Need More Fear

According to the Department of Homeland Security, warned that hackers are attacking software that controls medical devices, elevators, video cameras, security systems and a wide array of other sensitive operations. Except that is not included in the details of the report.

In the details of the report, a software vulnerability was found. There was no indication of any planned or attempted attacks by hackers into those systems. It was revealed that hackers could access through the discovered vulnerabilities, but not that this weakness had been exploited.

The internet has been a major problem for government officials. News reporting and political commentary are no longer confined to the major media outlets anymore. Not only does it disseminate news stories that said officials would rather keep buried, and not only does it enables large scale organization to oppose controversial decisions, through the actions of people like Julian Assange the users of the internet can now rip the mask off of the government and enable people to see just how ugly it really is.

In "Atlas Shrugged," the character Francisco Danconia compared the San Sebastian Mines to ripping the cover off of hell and letting people see it, saying that he had outdone Nero. Wikileaks has done the same thing outside the realm of fiction.

It is no surprise that congress was recently debating SOPA and PIPA. Small wonder as well that net neutrality is so heavily discussed. Government officials are afraid, and want more power to deal with what they fear. To get more power, they need to make a significant portion of the population afraid as well.

Threats need to be exaggerated. Just as when the neocons warned about the Iraqi threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and just as they warn about Iran's nuclear capabilities, in both cases exaggerations, the threat of the hackers has to be magnified to a degree sufficient to terrify people.

If remote control medical devices are hacked and disabled by hackers, that would be terrible. If an elevator was to suddenly plummet due to the actions of a hacker, that would also be terrible. There is no indication that this is happening, and those who issued the press release know this. The vulnerability was all they needed to hype it into a threat though. They needed more fear, and that is why they reported this the way they did. Only with enough fear can they try to take on the internet.

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