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Cyber Security Tsar?

CNN reports on the latest silliness: Obama creates position to guard online security

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Obama announced Friday he is creating the post of cyber security coordinator to oversee “a new comprehensive approach to securing America’s digital infrastructure.”

The president said he will personally select the person who takes on that post.

“I’ll depend on this official in all matters relating to cyber security, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges,” he said.

The economic crisis cannot be tackled without ensuring the safety of the nation’s online activities, Obama said. “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security,” he said.

“Our technological advantage is a key to America’s military dominance,” he added. “But our defense and military networks are under constant attack. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country — attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against.”

The country is not adequately prepared, he said, to defend against a possible “weapon of mass disruption.”

The government should first secure its own networks before it worries about anyone else’s. The US does not own the Internet. The government does not control the architecture, the administration, or any major segment of the web of facilities that comprises today’s ‘Net.

If the President would like to do something useful, he might pull NSA off of it illegal task of monitoring citizens and allow them to harden the actual networks that are owned by the US government. They might find time to create and implement standards for what the US has, and stop with this patch work of ad hoc bubble gum and baling wire kludges that might be justifiable after a major disaster as a temporary patch, but not as the apparent standard method of government agencies going on line.

Of course, the first move should be to remove Windows from all government computers and install a real operating system, but after seeing the appointment for the “Chief Technology Officer”, I don’t have much “hope” for any real “change”, as that is not how things work in this administration. I actually expect a Wackenhut executive who has figured out how to use Twitter.


1 Bill { 05.29.09 at 6:50 pm }

Another Czar?

Sounds like socialist Russia! Oops….. I said the bad word “socialism”

2 common sense { 05.29.09 at 7:55 pm }

This is re-tard-ed. He *is* talking about securing America’s digital infrastructure. What is America’s digital infrastructure? Our government is pretty wired up. The Chinese and Russians have already made plenty of headway into hacking our energy infrastructure. The government is no place for “operating system fanboi religious wars”. Lets face it, windows is secure, if you secure it. Lets also face the fact that your average government employee is not going to do his daily work on linux/unix.

Listen man, put down the pipe. The gubernment isnt about to invade your webservers and start mandating that you run a rootkit detection system. You still have the freedom to have your systems pwned by turkish hackers due to your own ignorance and laziness.

Furthermore for the clown who posted above: Czar is a term used by the media. Also for the uneducated Czars were KINGS of Russian MONARCHY – Thats BEFORE they were the “United Soviet Socialist Republic”. Please do us all a favor and go read a history book, and stop being a bunch of reactionary morons.


3 FokusLop { 05.29.09 at 7:58 pm }

Good article, Thanks. my name Philip.

4 common sense { 05.29.09 at 8:00 pm }

Also for the clown above, the first time in my memory that the POTUS appointed a Czar was your beloved Ronald Reagan when he appointed the first Drug Czar when he declared the oh-so-successful “war on drugs”.

Have we won that one yet? Does that make dear ole Ronald Reagan a socialist? No? didnt think so.

5 common sense { 05.29.09 at 8:04 pm }

The author wrote:

“The government should first secure its own networks before it worries about anyone else’s.”

Dear Bryan, learn to read the article before you write your criticisms:

“But our defense and military networks are under constant attack. Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country — attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against.”

6 Bryan { 05.29.09 at 8:21 pm }

First off, the title Царь is properly transliterated in the Latin alphabet as Tsar. Since English uses the Latin alphabet, and not the Polish alphabet that spells it Czar, the correct spelling is Tsar.

Second, the Tsar was emperor and autocrat of all the Russias, and in Imperial Russia socialists were exiled, imprisoned, or executed, depending on the whim of the Tsar. I can assure you that that there was no such thing as a “socialist Russia”.

The Soviet Union is another matter entirely, but they eliminated the Tsar and his family, so the association of socialism with Russia is patently false. Neither Lenin, nor Stalin, nor Trotsky were Russians. The only Russian to rule the Soviet Union was Yuri Andropov who lasted 15 months in the early 1980s.

7 Kryten42 { 05.29.09 at 9:25 pm }

My, my… they are coming out of the woodwork now Bryan. 😉 😆

Considering all the problems that US Gov agencies are having with their IT infrastructure, which have been well documented but reading between the lines as I was trained leads me to strongly suspect it’s much worse, I can’t even begin to see how whomever Obama appoints will have any real impact. It would require about as much of a budget as the US military currently has and a lot of manpower and other resources. The systems are so busted, about the only thing that can be done is to start from scratch. That would be a lot less difficult, costly and time consuming than trying to *fix* the disaster it is now. The first thing that needs to be done is a proper scope and requirements for each department, I doubt one has been done for decades, if ever. Of course, that won’t happen because the people in charge of the departments want to stay in charge, and they can hide a lot of dirt in the current chaos. 🙂 All staff would have to undergo some serious and intensive training. Given the apparent level of intelligence I’ve read about and seen for myself in US Gov agencies, good luck with that!

Nothing will change. It will be the usual tinkering around the edges to be seen to be doing something. ‘We have to do something! This is something. We will do it.”

It would require a couple years just to get a real handle on the actual scope of the problem, let alone plan a way to fix it and then implement it.

8 Kryten42 { 05.29.09 at 9:37 pm }

*sigh* Those damned buttons! 😉

Ahem… to continue…

From what I’ve read about this new position, the aim seems to be *NOT* fixing the actual problems, but building a cyber fence around the USA (like that fence along the Mexico border? That’s going well.) I love the part where they would possibly even have the power to *shut down the Internet*! LOL Oh yes… nothing like cutting your own nose off to spite your face! Digital suicide anyone? LOL

This is not the answer and is a total waste of money and resources better spent elsewhere. It’s not like the USA doesn’t have a million other places that need the money. Perhaps some software updates for all the Gov agencies might be a place to start? That wouldn’t solve the problem either, but would mitigate it somewhat at least.

BTW. The plan is Military, not domestic. So, what they are really saying is that it’s a weapon.
The Pentagon plans to create a new military command for cyberspace, administration officials said Thursday, stepping up preparations by the armed forces to conduct both offensive and defensive computer warfare – or even shut down the internet.

Yeah… that’ll work! LOL

9 Bryan { 05.29.09 at 9:51 pm }

Dear Common Sense, from the point of view of someone who has been diddling bits for nearly four decades and first connected to what is now the Internet when it had a 64kb leased telephone lines for a backbone, I probably have a bit more grounding in how the system works than you do.

For your education, the power grid of the US is not, in any way, shape, or form controlled over the ‘Net. Power companies have their own systems that are separate and distinct from the Internet, and most of their controls require the presence of people to actually operate them, except in the case of overloads which are controlled with circuit breakers, just like your house. Someone has to go to the location and reset them manually. The garbage about the Chinese invaded the grid, is just that – garbage. What are they going to do, overbill you?

Windows, is, was, and always will be garbage. It is overpriced and under performs. Securing Windows requires constant attention that people have no intention of giving. You obviously have no experience with Mac OS or current versions of Unix/Linux or you wouldn’t be spouting such nonsense.

The government currently has no standards for its systems, which results in major openings for crackers and script kiddies. They don’t have the minimum of controls on equipment or removable media which results in major security breaches which affect all Americans. As someone who had to institute a block on my credit accounts because of a government screw-up, don’t tell me that it doesn’t affect me.

I don’t want announcements or new job titles, I want them to secure their systems. He is talking about DoD systems, I got screwed because of a VA problem. The entire government needs to clean up its act on the Internet and all of its IT infrastructure, not just part of it. They should also be demanding the same security from government contractors, so we stop leaking data about new equipment to the world.

My system is secure. No, not this box that is connected to the ‘Net, my main system, which isn’t.

10 Bryan { 05.29.09 at 10:00 pm }

Yeah, Kryten, they are trying to weaponize cyberspace. What an absurd group of people.

We’ll see how serious they are based on who gets selected. After the CTO pick, I don’t have a lot of confidence that they understand what is needed. People hate getting their passwords changed, hell, they hate change of any kind, but that is exactly why these attacks succeed. People don’t upgrade, they don’t change their passwords, they don’t use firewalls, they don’t do anything that impedes the flow of their lives.

11 Kryten42 { 05.29.09 at 10:07 pm }

LOL Yeah Bryan! Like you… I sooooooooo know how it goes. 🙂

I can’t wait to see the mass exodus of companies overseas (at least in the cyber sense) once it dawns on them that the military, and by extension, the US Gov will control the gateways and the domestic part of the Internet. It worked well in China. 😉 LOL I see one of two things happening: Either the US telco’s will be part of this system, and we know how well commercial and military interests work so well together, or the US Gov will have to take over the telco’s. 🙂 Either will, I’m sure, work just wonderfully. LMAO

Never. Happen!

12 Kryten42 { 05.29.09 at 10:19 pm }

Hey… If you want something really scary, and haching of a different kind, try this:

Threat Level Privacy, Crime and Security Online
Obama Taps 5th RIAA Lawyer to Justice Dept.

I can see a time, in the not too distant future, when Amiricans will dream of the freedom people in China enjoy!

Oh, but of course, Obama is one of the “Good Guy’s”tm. Silly me… I had a flashback to the past decade. Well, that’s OK then. Right? LOL

13 Bryan { 05.29.09 at 10:55 pm }

People will route around it and avoid dealing with the US. It is silly to think that the US government and corporations are going to make things better, when they are the ones creating most of the problems.

I’m sick of all of the childish claims about income and taxes lost to piracy. People aren’t responsible for the losses, lousy products are responsible. If corporations started providing something simple, like service, when they sell you a product, instead of the standard negation of all of the buyer’s rights with their packaged “agreements”, they might find people caring. I’m sick of paying money to people who treat me like a criminal and take no responsibility for their own actions.

This right of center government that was elected certainly doesn’t make me very happy with the political system in the US.

14 Bryan { 05.30.09 at 12:09 am }

Interesting, for some reason the BBC story on this included that $1 trillion has been lost to “piracy”, which means that corporations are claiming losses for goods that were never sold or made, probably based on faulty estimates created in their marketing departments to explain why good haven’t moved.

People forget things like Microsoft couldn’t give Vista away, and people complained to the point that Dell et al. had to continue to ship XP or face the loss of computer sales. No doubt the lack of Vista sales will be blamed on piracy, rather than a crummy product that no one wanted.

15 Kryten42 { 05.30.09 at 1:09 am }

There is a good blog (by an EFF contributor at the ACSlaw blog (part of the American Constitution Society):

Enter Stage Right: The “Cyber Czar”

OT (kinda): I was reading this also over there… A very sad state of affairs.
A Law-Free Zone for All the King’s Men

And this shows that a new broom doesn’t always sweep clean!
Checks, Balances Sidelined

Oh well… back to the real world of writing code and lot’s of config files for me! And I got a lousy head-cold too! 🙁

16 Kryten42 { 05.30.09 at 1:13 am }

oooh! Drats! I shoulda checked first…

The original (and more complete) version of the first link above is at the EFF DEPLINKS blog:
EFF: Enter Stage Right: The “Cyber Czar”

17 Bryan { 05.30.09 at 12:36 pm }

I have already learned that the Obama administration is not the friend of liberty or personal freedom that too many assume it to be. It is a center right corporatist group that couldn’t care less about people, as is clearly evinced in its health care proposals that are obviously geared towards preserving the profits of insurance companies to the detriment of the economy, people, and health care.

I’m not interested in “words” but deeds, and I haven’t seen anything that persuades me that life is about to get better.