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The next cyber war will be for your wallet

Robert X. Cringely | March 8, 2010
Some security officials say the US is under cyber attack; others say that's a crock. Cringe's take? Follow the money

(For the record, I'm with the conspiracy theorists on that one. Also: Soylent Green is people. Pass it on.)

Thus we encounter the new enemy. First there was communism, then terrorism, now there's cyberism. Those very loud grunting and snorting noises you hear? They're coming from the think tanks, security firms, and defense contractors lining up at the taxpayer trough.

Is the threat from external cyber attackers real? Absolutely. Should we shore up our national IT infrastructure? No doubt. Are private companies aching to make a killing by helping intelligence agencies Hoover up all our personal data? You betcha.

So let's take a step back and breathe for a second.

Personally, I would love to see all these malware authors, botnet operators, cyber thieves, spammers, and scammers sent to the slammer. And if they're "state sponsored," even more so. But not at the expense of having my every online movement tracked, categorized, and placed into some data mining machine to determine whether I'm a threat to America's freedoms.

The big problem with intelligence is that it's not always used intelligently -- or for the noble purposes for which it was allegedly intended. Mistakes are made, sometimes deliberately.

Remember, the old Soviet Union had both an admirably low crime rate and impressively high density of intellectuals and other dissidents eating air biscuits in Siberian gulags. Sometimes high security comes at too high a price.

The next time somebody starts raving about cyber war, make sure they're not trying to pick your pocket at the same time.

Well, that was fun. I now open the floor to your opinions. Are we really at risk from cyber war? What price is too much? E-mail me:


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