Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Stories from a planet in a galaxy far far far away - The Cyber War crashed the World

On a planet in a galaxy far far far away - there once was a mighty information sharing network that connected all the citizens with each other. This network called the Borld Bide Beb (BBB for short) the citizens of this planet were able to share their collective knowledge and solve problems that were simply too hard for any one citizen to cope with.

However this Borld Bide Beb was a utopian fantasy as the intelligence services of various nations on this planet had penetrated the Beb to spy on their own citizens.  This logic of this went as follows -  the intelligence services were supposed to protect people - and how could they protect the people if they weren't keeping an eye on everything?  

There was unfortunately a fatal flaw. In order to do this "protecting" these intelligence services had to identify weaknesses in the construction of the Borld Bide Beb and keep these weaknesses secret in order to be able to exploit them for security reasons. 

This fatal flaw manifested itself in the fullness of time. The intelligence services were in a state of constant war in cyberspace. As they fought each other tooth nail and claw - they constantly searched for ways to one-up the other. In this process they routinely attacked each other tools - stealing and damaging as many as they could. It all started out a relatively genteel alternative to actual war - but then quickly metastasized into a full blown death match. 

In this death match -  the tools used by the intelligence services leaked out  - first into the hands of other adversary services and then later into the hands of criminals. As the free market in the development of such tools took hold, the threats multiplied and there was no limit to the zero day vulnerabilities that spouted all over the place. As soon as a code was written, the vulnerabilities were exposed and marketed to select groups of criminals for a price.

The criminal incentive took over the rational desire for meaningful security and like a place where the license to kill has just been handed out to random people - a free for all occurred. 

In this fashion all sense of security enjoyed in transactions over the Borld Bide Beb disappeared. With this sense of security went the large numbers of financial transactions and as the financial transactions dropped so the the global market for goods and services. As the planet's stock markets reeled under the impact of this degradation of transaction security - the economy of the planet collapsed completely.

Based on a free exchange of goods and services, the economy of the planet had gotten too used to having whatever it wanted - whenever it wanted. The citizens of the planet could not accept the sudden shift to an economy where only certain things were available at certain times.

It was a most terrible affair - that happened on this planet in a galaxy far far far away.

Perhaps one can learn something from it. It is never too late to prevent the same from happening on our planet. 

3 Comments:

At 5:49 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

Apparently one of the smaller powers suggested a "no BBB war pact" which the dominating power rejected. What lessons can all learn without falling prey to the tragedy of the commons?

 
At 3:52 AM, Blogger maverick said...

yes but this is a big data only game. If your data retain isn't big enough - no one listens to what you have to say.

Don't know if the tragedy of the commons can be avoided if the common good is not even recognized.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I can take a maximal position on this.

If the national security mechanisms of various nations choose to undertake limitless tailored access operations to protect their interests, then all users must undertake measures to protect themselves from the adverse effects of such intrusions.

The measures a user make take include - switching to a secure OS like Tails (https://tails.boum.org), using a secure telephone app (like Red Phone) and text app (like Telegram), an encrypted password manager (like Key Pass).

These measures should not be aimed at preventing the national security mechanisms from ensuring public safety but merely ensuring that criminal activities like ransomware are frustrated severely.

The growing ease with which criminal incentives for hacking are being decentralized is creating a massive space for assaults on the network on a scale we can barely imagine. Criminals can crack your passwords with staggering ease. Add to this the proliferation of network penetration tools and you have the makings of a massive disaster.

One has to do what one can to protect oneself and the people one cares about.

 

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