Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The US Has Been Digitally Penetrated

There have been a number of stories about our brave new electronic world lately, and they basically intersect with my interests on a number of scores, but time has just not let me separately expound on them--but that's okay by me. These things have a common thread.

For one thing, while part of the PATRIOT Act has been allowed to expire, the USA Freedom Act ( not a title any the less brimming with some Orwellian component) has restored the bits that probably are useful if not absolutely necessary. It just makes sense to me, from a Constitutional standpoint, that warrants shall obtain for legal review of collected metadata, but it seems dumb to me that we could expect that data to not be retained somehow. This looks like useful reform to me, and the article I linked to points out that this somewhat more US Constitution-compliant version of data collection and review is impelled, in part, by that rash boy, Ed Snowden.

What's on the troubling side, is that the lots and lots of data that Snowden collected and trotted away with to Hong Kong and then to Moscow(when he hadn't any real ability to review and assess what he was even compromising)? Well, it looks like it might have been cracked, even over assurances by Snowden that that was a thing that wasn't happening, which, bright as he no doubt is, I am sure he should have known was not actually true. Encryption isn't magic. If something can be locked up in a number-based code, it can be sorted out in a number-based code because numbers are really logical that way. It might take a long time, but computers don't have the same idea about "long" where numbers are concerned that we do. We are carbon-based things. Computers are number-based things. Carbon thingies using number thingies will totes crack codes. This means the possible exposure of human assets.

That is to say, people who are working in the intelligence field have just been opened up to the possibility of being snuffed by foreign agents with an understandable disdain for their presence. Long story short, good people could get their button pushed. That's not some service in the interest of freedom. That's giving up Americans and our allies. If it isn't treason--I will still consider it treason-adjacent.

But that probably isn't a patch on the major news that the history of about 4 million US government employees has been hacked, probably by China, and probably including the security clearance of our intelligence services. I'm in favor of checking out what John Schindler has to say about this breach, because he's pretty authoritative, but the main takeaway has to be that the risk isn't so much that individuals are personally threatened, although they could be. It's that because of exposure of personal data, these employees of the USG could be put at risk to be leveraged by foreign intelligence--their fear of exposure for whatever issue, gambling debts or an expensive side piece, could be turned into a reason for them to undermine their agency's interests.

This is the new playing field. It looks a lot like the old one, though. Know the players, know what they want, try to keep information away from them, and change routines once information has been exposed.

It's a new century. It's an old game. I cannot say I don't find it intriguing but worrisome, that the US is not apparently better at it.

1 comment:

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

What a headline! It looks like our data's been duggared.