Cyber Insecurity on the Rise
By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 @ 4:17AM
How damaging was/is the (presumably) latest hacking of the United States government’s Office of Personal Management data is unknown. According to the OPM website, the hacked information “could include name, Social Security Number, date and place of birth, and current and former addresses [as well as] additional [Personally Identifiable] Information.”
Reports on this hacking also indicate that the OPM is uncertain as to who was the perpetrator and how long the hacking had been going on. The OPM hacking effected at least 4 million current and former government employees, whose unencrypted information was stolen, apparently not for the first time. Yet, no one in government has taken responsibility for the insufficient cybersecurity that puts its employees at risk and keeps an open door to our national secrets.
Why, for example, weren’t the OPM computers encrypted? “The feds have $4 trillion to spend each year plus access to the most advanced encryption systems,” notes the Wall Street Journal. “Will anyone in government take responsibility for this fiasco?”
Instead of providing the best available protection to all government offices, the Obama administration, not for the first time, is putting the blame on Congress. However, securing government operation has little to do with Congress. In fact, cybersecurity bills have stalled in Congress because of the Administration’s insistence that bills include new and costly government mandates on private companies, which the private sector and many legislators object to. But the White House has not budged.
The Administration’s persistently inadequate protection of its own data and communications serves only to further discredit the assurances of a “cyberdefense-umbrella” recently given by the President and members of his administration to the Gulf States and Japan.
Why would anyone trust the steadily leaking umbrella the Administration is using that leaves its communication, information and the personal data of its current and former employees left unprotected?
At the same time, however, the Administration’s concern to protect the privacy of its citizens have led to new legislation curtailing NSA’s ability to collect the telephone numbers of cell phones making and receiving calls (not their content), thus making it more difficult to identify terrorists plotting to harm us. A major argument in supporting the legislation was that the NSA should listen only to known terrorists….And how would that help identify new threats posed, for example by new “Lone-Wolf” terrorists? Or an ISIS recruit returning from from an ISIS training camp in the Balkans? Or a new drug trafficking group formed by Americans, tempted by opportunity to make huge profits without getting on law enforcement radar?
The growing vulnerability of the U.S. to cyber attacks fits into the Obama Administration’s broader U.S. National security policy. It complements the deliberate weakening of America’s political influence, reducing U.S. military power and limiting the NSA’s intelligence-gathering capabilities
Incidentally, or, perhaps, not coincidentally, reading the New York Times, gives the impression that the Administration’s next step in further weakening our ability to protect our armed forces, is to eviscerate one of the most effective special operations units, the Navy SEALS. This intention comes through vividly in a very long and accusatory ‘expose’ about SEAL Team 6, in New York Times, revealing information that would mostly benefit our enemies. But then, President Obama, while praising the team when announcing they killed Osama bin Laden, also revealed information that should have been kept secret.
The Administration’s cavalier attitude regarding our national security secrets goes well with Edward Snowden’s June 4 op-ed in the New York Times, that we need no more secrets because “We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear – [i.e. thus ignoring the Boston Marathon bombing, Islamists stabbing and shooting Americans at home, the attacks in Texas, Minneapolis, Los Angeles and New York, the bloody Charlie Hebdo attacks, and the 24/7 ISIS bloodbath in territories they already, or wish to, control.] – in favor of resilience and reason.”
This sounds much like statements made also by President Obama. So it will not be surprising to see Snowden granted a pardon by the President, and maybe even an offer to head the “new” “non secretive” NSA…