Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cyber-GlassHouses - No Stone Throwing Please

Technology, the Environment, & Science

There is a certain kind of mystique about the spy. - the agent working under cover to acquire secrets, carry out acts of espionage, "decapitate" a major political or business figure, or terminate another spy. The idea of the spy was never more captured than in the fictional James Bond or Double-0 Seven. The spy was a special kind of person - tough, smart, resourceful, cold, deadly, and able to endure under extreme duress. Along with the spy, the agencies for whom they worked also became household names, notably China's MSS, Britain's MI-6, Pakistan's ISI, Russia's FSB (before that there was the notorious KGB of the Soviet Union), the United States' CIA, and of course Israel's Mossad, perhaps the best of the lot. Quite a few of these agencies became bigger than life because of the movies and because of espionage books.  One thing is certain, the spy as we know him or her might have become obsolete as a result of the emergence of the Cyber-World. In the present time the James Bond equivalent might be some bespectacled, out-of-shape, guy who sits in front of a computer for most of his waking hours engaging in cyber-espionage, cyber-attacks, cyber-theft, cyber-warfare, cyber-you-name-it on behalf of one of the agencies mentioned above (or other groups), all in the effort to gain the upper hand militarily, economically, or some other -ly. Do the names Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame, Mahdi, and others mean anything?? So, the recent accusation by the United States about China's cyber-carryings-on comes as no surprise to me. Come on, China, own up! There is certainly no doubt that China does that which the U.S. is accusing it of doing, but so does the the U.S., so does Russia, Pakistan, Israel and all the rest, just as they used to do with the spies of the days of old. And I am sure that many of the big companies have their own agencies for cyber-spying on other companies as well. There are lots of glass houses to go around.

[Photographic Art by Ric Couchman]