28 September, 2010

Terror In Cyberspace

In addition to my series on the past and future elections, and my 40 days and 40 nights series, I’m going to start another series here. This one is about Democrats and what they really want. And it will scare you to your very soul. I’m not going to go Glenn Beck on you, and I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat. I’m going to talk about, as Mark Levin calls it, Liberty and Tyranny.

This was in the New York Times today, and may be the most terrifying thing you will see this year. As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the federal government wants “to put government-mandated back doors in all communications systems, including all encryption software”. This idea is coming straight from the White House.

The Times said the Obama administration is drafting a law that would impose a new "mandate" that all communications services be "able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages" — including ordering "[d]evelopers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication [to] redesign their service to allow interception".

What does this mean? It means that there will be no cyber-privacy. Not e-mail, not text, not cell phones, not even communication with your bank. Basically, this completely shreds the Fourth Amendment. I’ve mentioned in the past that President Barack Obama (D-USA) is no friend to the Fourth Amendment (and neither was President George W. Bush (R-USA), I know). FISA doesn’t even apply here, because this appears to be something that would work for all communications, foreign and domestic, so this is far worse than anything that Bush did. And here’s the real issue here. I suppose they’ll still have to get some sort of court approval to actually examine the private communication, but they’ll already have the keys.  It’s like having a tap on every phone line in the United States and then having to go get permission to turn it on. Or, here’s an even more frightening analogy. Remember The Hunt For Red October? Our feds will have both the missile keys and access to the lock. They’ll just be required to get permission before turning the keys. I’m sure they’ll be perfectly trustworthy and always get permission. And I have some land in Florida I’d like to sell you.

But wait, it gets worse. The Fourth Amendment concern isn’t even the scariest part about this. How bad is this? Let me count the ways.

First, the government will have the keys to all encrypted data, but someone is going to have to generate these keys for them. Whoever that someone is also capable of having the keys. Uh oh.

Second, once you open a “back door”, you create a weak link in your security. Hackers will be able to open these “back doors”. Just give them time. And, God forbid if the keys themselves are actually stored in some hackable location.

Scared yet? I’m just getting started.

Third, let’s say Microsoft writes the encryption software that’s used in sending encrypted data from Windows. I’m not picking on Microsoft, just using them as an example. Now, the Democrats in general, and the Obama administration in particular, are globalists. Every move they make they view from a global government perspective. Microsoft sells Windows in the UK too. If the U.S. forces Microsoft to put these back doors in, the UK is going to want the same thing eventually. And maybe the UK will try to force Microsoft to do it, or maybe the U.S. will require it. Now, we can’t have the same back door for the UK that we have for the U.S. Then they’ll be able to see all our private communications too. So, we’ll have to make another set of keys. Which means another back door. Which means another weak link in the security for hackers to exploit.

But wait, it gets worse.

Fourth, if Microsoft has to create two different encryptions for the UK and the U.S., then they’re likely not compatible. I won’t be able to establish a secure communications link from my home in Indiana with my bank in London. Moreover, Ford Motor Company won’t be able to do it with its Jaguar division in the UK.

Ok, maybe I’m wrong here. Software developers are pretty smart people. They can probably figure out how to handle this encryption with multiple sets of keys and still make it be readable and writeable at both ends. It means rewriting a lot of cryptography textbooks, but I imagine someone creative can come up with a way to do it.

Here’s the thing, though. As I said above, we now have two weak links in our system. And of course it’s worse than that. What do we do when Sweden wants their own keys? Or even Russia? Or China? Eventually we have lots of keys and for every inter-country communication we have two weak links, one at each endpoint. And they’re interdependent weak links, meaning that if some creative hacker can hack the UK keys, and then get to some UK/U.S. communications, not only can they view that, but they can likely then hack the U.S. keys.

At this point our entire infrastructure comes crumbling down. Did you see the movie Sneakers?

WHISTLER: Look at this, boys. Anybody want to shut down the Federal Reserve?

WHISTLER: What else have you got?

CARL: The national power grid.

WHISTLER: Anybody want to black out New England? Carl, what else?

CARL: Air Traffic Control System

WHISTLER: Anybody want to crash a couple of passenger jets?

Perhaps that reference is too old for you. How about Die Hard 4? Allowing these “back doors” makes a “Fire Sale” a very real and workable feat. These back doors turn speculative fiction into terrifying reality.

I’ll wait while you go and change your underwear, because there’s still a bit more.

I keep throwing around the term “hacker”, and you’re probably thinking of it in its 80s and 90s sense. Some pale skinned kid up late at night in his parents basement trolling the internet trying to create some mischief. That’s the wrong image. Hackers are the Rangers and Seals of the 21st century. Cyber-warfare is the next great arms race, and it appears we’re seeing some of the first hints of that right now. Heard of the Stuxnet worm? If not, follow the link. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.

See, it’s not just some teenager that’s going to be hacking into my e-mails between you and your children and sending mail apparently from you. It’s rogue states. You want the President of Iran in your e-mail? Neither do I. Nor do I want him in my bank account. Or Bill Gates’ bank account. Or the Federal Reserve. Or NORAD.

Yeah, NORAD’s a good one. Maybe he could just start launching our nuclear weapons at Russia? I’m thinking of an R.E.M. song now and I don’t feel fine.

I hope I’ve convinced you that the Obama administration must be stopped dead in its tracks here. We have to push back and push back so hard that they’ll get the message never to go down this route again.

1 comment:

  1. I am not sure that this is a big deal. I am sure that the thumb drive on which the spreadhseet that is used to track the keys will be in a locked desk drawer.