Make It So

 I haven’t
really heard much about the theft of public employee records in Washington
(including employees with security clearances) lately, but I have thought about
it quite a bit.
So far there
hasn’t been much fallout. China was pointed out as the country that hacked our
government computers but China says that they did not do it. That has not
changed our assessment of blame and it probably won’t unless someone else takes
credit or uses the information.
erroneously thought that our hidden spies had gone out of fashion after the
Cold War ended, but I was wrong and, apparently, they are still an asset for
United States intelligence gathering. So far these people who sometimes spy
have not been sent home in disgrace or arrested and imprisoned in foreign jail
cells. However, it sure is embarrassing that someone was able to access this
beginning to think that there is no such thing as a secure computer or really
good encryption.  Look what happened to
that flight that got hacked in Poland this weekend. There are, apparently, back
doors planted all over the place. Our Federal government, or so we have been
told, is using old technology which needs to be updated as desperately as our
highway and rail systems. If priorities are to be set I would say that computer
security is an even greater priority than updating our travel networks and both
are high on my list.
We have
hired young “hacker”-grade computer “geeks” (e.g. Edward Snowden) to run our
NSA computers that spy on Americans (and others) so unsuccessfully (e.g. Dylann
Roof and many others who were not noticed by the system), so why aren’t some of
these resources being put to work on better encryption and tighter computer
security? Do we perhaps have “spies” working for the NSA where they can do
damage from the inside?
Will America
be blind if all of our secret information resources are disabled? We can’t tell
yet, obviously, but I bet the shoes will start dropping soon and then we will
get some idea of the damage done. Perhaps our assets will be left in place and
fed false information. Will we be able to trust any of the data collected by
our people? I don’t mean to sound flippant about spying, although it all seems a
bit sordid, but can any nation trying to navigate this chaotic age afford to
operate without spies? Has any government ever operated without spies? I am
certain that all nations have spy networks or perhaps less formal ways to get
information. Perhaps we could hack the spy networks of other nations and
negotiate a standoff. I’m guessing we will eventually have to deal with this
data leak.
I just hope
someone has not figured out a way to parlay thefts of computer data into an
American economic collapse which many around the world would like very much to
see. So far our resilience has held and even the terrible and dramatic
destruction of our World Trade Center, buildings full of financial firms,
caused the American economy to shudder, but not to fail.
I hope that
the reason I come up with these paranoid scenarios that my mind imagines is
because I read too many political thrillers. It would seem to my suspicious
mind that Russia has far more reasons to seek out our secrets right now than
China does. But China has plenty of reasons also and both nations pretend to
hate spies while sprinkling the world with spies of their own. Spies obviously
did not disappear when the Cold War ended. We are still doing Spy Versus Spy.
If we were more efficient, if we accomplished much of anything these days, I’m
sure we could find a way to keep our secrets secret. 
By Nancy Brisson

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