Night Sweats

From May 28th, 2017 Posting

Morality in America

Cybersecurity in America; are you losing sleep over it?

By Gigi Cook

What keeps you awake at night these days? For many in Congress it’s cybersecurity, and the ominous threat that “we the people” will be hacked by malevolent forces, intent on the destruction of our citizens and critical industries. Just such a scenario played out last week wreaking havoc on computer systems worldwide. In dozens of countries, people’s lives were dramatically changed when their sensitive data was hijacked and held for a questionable ransom.  Ironically, the delivery device for the turmoil was software designed then stolen from America’s National Security Agency (NSA.) [MORE]

For many people, the hackers behind events like last week’s attacks are baffling, why would ANYONE want to tamper with hospital schedules or the personal documents of thousands of random people? 

Hector Monsegur, known by his hacker handle Sabu, is one of the people behind hacking into high-profile companies like Sony and PBS. After years on the other side of the law, he now provides assistance combating cyber threats and openly speaks out on the psychology behind the bedlam.

“There’s a lot of context that people miss when it comes down to hacking …for example, the Arab Spring, for many of us, especially the younger audience, that was the first time you got to see a revolution. And then it was a revolution that happened on the internet, which is insane!”

“And the fact that we could participate with the protesters on the street by hacking and disrupting the Tunisian government, was major. So now the question would be, ‘Do you think that what you did in Tunisia served a purpose?’ And the answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ Because Tunisia is not in a good place right now, and the Middle East is in shambles. So what did I really do? Did I help the cause or did I hurt the cause? Because I acknowledge that I did other crimes that have other victims. But the situation in the Middle East – participating in that kind of hacktivism. We had no idea the consequences were going to be so dire. So real …We can’t gauge the consequences of participating in an actual revolution… however, the most consistent result of hacking and hacktivism is chaos,” he added.

Cybersecurity rose to the forefront of national attention in the late 1990s when government officials attempted a mandatory security requirement on critical infrastructure companies by creating a parallel internet for government agencies. The proposals were strongly challenged by private industry and even denounced as “Orwellian” by some. Eventually, the proposal was dropped and now, thirty years later, Congress is still grappling with how to protect the core structures of American life from cyber threats.

Before leaving office last year, President Obama signed an executive order creating a Chief Information Security Officer. However, there was no real power in the position, and the budget of $3.1 billion was never authorized. Last month, President Trump signed his version of a similar order; yet again, the money was not there. Congress has not been able to agree on an appropriate amount to completely update and secure IT systems in all federal agencies and critical industries.

The ties between government and cybersecurity are complicated. “Eternal Blue” the name of the NSA worm used in last week’s attacks, was actually stopped through a kill-patch included in a Microsoft update last March, raising many questions. Some are actually accusing the NSA of prior knowledge to the vulnerability and informing Microsoft only AFTER they realized the software had been stolen. 

Tim Wellsmore, with FireEye, a California-based company dealing with large network breaches, said “Hacking – it’s the new way to do espionage in the 21st century … it’s a low-cost, high return model.” And just for those reasons, China-based Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer, is said to be under the control of the China’s People Liberation Army and therefore banned in America. In addition, the Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, is also being examined in the same light.

Tonight, you do not have to lay awake sweating out the technological boogey man, Psalm 18 still covers you “The Lord is my rock; I will call upon Him, so shall I be saved from my enemies”

Tomorrow Pray for Congress:

  • To find wisdom in allocating resources to America’s cyber security
  • For insight into the nation’s enemies and vulnerabilities
  • To ask God for guidance and blessing in setting a future course of action

Gigi Cook’s work has been featured in major radio markets, media publications and corporate leadership programs. She is a writer, speaker, and program facilitator with a Master’s Degree in psychology. Residing in Salt Lake City, Gigi enjoys her family, her work, and restoring American antiques.