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FBI's Top Cyber-cop Says We're Losing the War Against Hackers 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the have-you-tried-bullets dept.
New submitter sienrak writes "Shawn Henry, who is preparing to leave the FBI after more than two decades with the bureau, said in an interview that the current public and private approach to fending off hackers is 'unsustainable.' 'I don't see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior, because with the status quo, it's an unsustainable model. Unsustainable in that you never get ahead, never become secure, never have a reasonable expectation of privacy or security,' Mr. Henry said."
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FBI's Top Cyber-cop Says We're Losing the War Against Hackers

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  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:56PM (#39500943) Journal

    Well of course they are losing the battle..... a house fighting against itself will fall.

    • by zero.kalvin (1231372) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:02PM (#39501057)
      It is in the nature of the fight itself. Anyone anywhere can come up with a way ( if smart and motivated enough) to hack anything anywhere, it is completely different from invading another country or defending your own. Individuals can't be suppressed the way you subdue hostile forces. The matter is unless you install a spy cam inside the brains of everyone I don't see how the hacking war can be won. ( and even in this case someone would hack it ! )
      • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @08:10PM (#39503221)

        Anyone anywhere can come up with a way ( if smart and motivated enough) to hack anything anywhere, it is completely different from invading another country or defending your own.

        You're completely right. And the idea of having some incompetent bureaucracy with the power to spy on everyone and shut down the internet is is totally insane.

        But let's not just complain about it, shall we? Why don't we do one better?

        Making systems totally secure is a pipe dream, but we can certainly make them more secure. And entirely without a surveillance bureaucracy.

        The key is to understand that secure software is a market failure: Nobody wants to pay for security until after they get hacked, which means software developers have the wrong incentives. The one that goes out of their way to do security right end up going out of business because they get beat to market by the ones that ship the first code that compiles. But let's resist the knee jerk government reaction to this, which is to pass laws telling everybody what to do. That isn't what's needed here -- the result of any sanctions will be a "teaching to the test" problem where developers do the bare minimum to avoid liability while not actually making secure software, and meanwhile software development is made far more expensive due to regulatory compliance burdens. So forget about that.

        What would actually work? SE Linux. It was produced by the NSA, it's open source, and it makes things more secure. Why don't we spend the money on that sort of thing? Use the carrot, not the stick. Have the NSA provide free, voluntary security audits to major infrastructure providers. Have them produce more software in the nature of SE Linux -- things designed by all those genius cryptographers they already employ, which can subsequently be adopted by everyone everywhere and make things more secure. Fund more software like TOR which can protect privacy, to get such things to the point that they're fast and efficient enough for regular use by everyday people (and screw over enemy countries that censor and oppress in the process). Provide incentives for the more rapid adoption of technologies that increase security, like DNSSEC and IPv6.

        These are the things that have the potential to actually work. If they're actually serious about improving security, and Something Must Be Done, let it be that. Because the last thing we need is another hopeless regulatory bureaucracy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by justforgetme (1814588)

        Correct, the solution is not to battle the effects (hacking, hacktivism, organized digital crime) but the things that create the need for them (IP, DRM, Patents, Coprorational governance of the world wide market). Still hacking and hacktivism will continue to exists as long as there is a reason to tinker and protest.

        Hacking was never the bad guy, it is the establishment being afraid of change that instigates it.

    • by poetmatt (793785) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:07PM (#39501125) Journal

      Nah, see it's just a word replaced incorrectly. they're losing the war against profit. "Cybercrime" is just the justification. They want people to spend more money under the guise of counter-terrorism.

      • Thank you. They don't seem to be worried about the threat to expectation of privacy from Facebook and Google... Let alone that from the FBI or NSA.

        You were born in sector X. Sector X has the dominion over you!

    • by DCFusor (1763438) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:28PM (#39502065) Homepage
      They are losing the battle, but we're doing just fine, thanks. Their definition of the battle is that they effortlessly control everything and have "Total Information Awareness" which, of course, is not the battle we are in ourselves at all.
  • Huh? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by rossdee (243626)

    Who is this "we" ?

    Some of us aren't part of the Government...

    • by F69631 (2421974)

      You will be one day [wikipedia.org], so I recommend staying up to date on all the important issues.

      • by Iniamyen (2440798)
        Sorry, I don't understand the joke. Can you enlighten me? Thanks in advance.
        • by meow27 (1526173)
          he is basically calling the parent poster a minor, since in the united states, it is illegal [AFAIK even for the government] to distribute the identity of minors
        • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by F69631 (2421974) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:47PM (#39501565)

          The OP lives in USA which is - last time I checked - a representative democracy. It might be imperfect one (=difficult to break the two-party system) but it's still a democracy... which means that The Government is just the set of institutions that The Population has built. Saying that you aren't part of the government in such a state is saying that you can't influence the decision making process, which probably means that you are too young to vote.

          It doesn't help if you say "I'm a LIBERTARIAN. I want the fed abolished...". Even ignoring all arguments about how you can't exclude yourself from a group just because you don't believe in everything it has democratically decided... This is FBI we are talking about. Even the most idealistic libertarians would say "The government has only one job: Keep us safe from the bad guys" (i.e. power to use violence is the only true natural monopoly) so this is perhaps the one institution that libertarians would retain.

  • Of course he would (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:58PM (#39500991) Journal

    Economic espionage is an excellent excuse for implementing centralized control of the internet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Glarimore (1795666)

      Economic espionage is an excellent excuse for implementing centralized control of the internet.

      And as long as corporations are not controlled by the government, their security is their responsibility. Let them handle it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @04:59PM (#39500993)

    "Privacy and Security". Watch those words, folks. In the name of privacy and security we have already given up bits of both. This yahoo wants us to give up even more. Fear the person who says he can guarantee your privacy and security because first you need to give those up to him.

  • by realmolo (574068) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:01PM (#39501035)

    Can you feel it? The government wants to get control of the internet, and computers, and all communications devices in general.

    They're going to pretend it's for our safety. They just want to protect us from hackers, after all.

    I'm not a "government is evil" guy, but this is the kind of thing governments typically want to do. And it has to be prevented. Call your congressman.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      Honestly, the worst firewalls in the world are in places like Iran and China. People in those countries manage to circumvent them just fine, and so will we if it comes down to it.

      And if not, there's always sneakernet.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Which is the underlying reality of internet security. If it absolutely doesn't need to be connected to the internet than don't bloody connect it to the internet. If it is going to save a thousand dollars a year to connect to the internet but cost ten thousand dollars to 'maybe' secure it, then don't connect it to the internet.

        When it comes to security, the internet should not be any different than reality. What would you do to secure your actual physical computer system, would you require every person on

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yep.

      Even on /. there was at least half a dozen stories matching the "$insider says $hackers have already compromised >90% of computers in ($line_of_business|$federal_department|...)"

      Feels like someone's preparing the ground to bring out some new legislation.

    • Notice he does not mention the M word.
  • by TheEmperorOfSlashdot (1830272) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:01PM (#39501039)
    He places the blame right where it belongs, on those corporations and government agencies that are too incompetent to design secure computer systems or hire those who can:

    Mr. Henry, who is leaving government to take a cybersecurity job with an undisclosed firm in Washington, said companies need to make major changes in the way they use computer networks to avoid further damage to national security and the economy. Too many companies, from major multinationals to small start-ups, fail to recognize the financial and legal risks they are taking—or the costs they may have already suffered unknowingly—by operating vulnerable networks, he said.

    • No, but he sure as hell left the door wide open for a politician to create new ones. The other politicians salivate at the prospect of attaching riders to it too.

      It was bound to happen sooner or later. He just kicked the pace up a notch, that's all.

    • Sure, but that doesn't stop others from hopping on that train:

      Matthew Eggers, a senior director at the Chamber, said the group "is urging policy makers to change the 'status quo' by rallying our efforts around a targeted and effective information-sharing bill that would get the support of multiple stakeholders and come equipped with ample protections for the business community."

      Message: Further blur the lines between various enforcement agencies, possibly including military, for the benefit of corporations.

    • The problem is that even if you're tech team is the most savvy in the world, you've still left yourself wide open to attack via social hacking. In terms of security, humans are and will always be the weakest link in a computer network.

      Good luck keeping the CFO from being phished.
  • a journey, not a destination.

    Thus saith Steve Jobs.

    Or maybe it's that perfection is a journey, not a destination.

    Meh. Probably both...

  • I fully agree (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hjf (703092)

    I fully agree. We need a change in legislation.

    And I propose the following: make every technician in charge of systems security liable for hacks to their network. And systems manufcaturers too. Make security a a requirement, and not a suggestion.

    You know, cause some people might interpret "change in legislation" as "we want to spy on all citizens". Which is useless.

    • You can legislate only to a certain degree. That is, make companies responsible for the security of the information related to their CLIENTS. I personally don't care if a company loses their trade secrets to hackers, but I do care if they lose my personal information, credit card numbers, etc.
    • by es330td (964170)

      make every technician in charge of systems security liable for hacks to their network

      Okay, so technicians will require hack insurance, because nobody will risk the financial penalty of taking said job with unlimited financial liability. This means that network technicians will have to be licensed to be insurable, which will cost money. Now only large firms will be able to afford the cost of these technicians. It is almost certain that the government will step in an license operators, just as they do doctors, accountants and other professionals. This is all certain to do wonders for the

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hjf (703092)

        I don't see any problem with that. I don't want an idiot with a pirated Windows Server 2008 to be in charge of my medical records, for example. And a lot of times that's exactly what you get.

        "Anyone can do it" doesn't mean they SHOULD. Doctors, architects, engineers, and everyone in charge of infrastructure or other critical projects or things that could cost your life are required a license. Why aren't "IT managers" required the same? IT now IS infrastructure, and a lot of times the sysadmin is just a guy

    • Hold the technician liable? How completely unfair.

      What if your OS is insecure and leads to you getting hacked? Did the Technician write the OS? Did the technician get dictatorial control of what OS was used?

      No. In this case, the technician is a mere scapegoat.

      What if your network hardware had a backdoor installed in it by a 'counterfeit' or malicious 'legitimate' manufacturer? Can one reasonably expect a security technician to audit every piece of hardware and software?

      No. In this case, the technician

      • by hjf (703092)

        Hold the technician liable? How completely unfair.

        The technician has no responsibility if data is stolen or loss? How completely unfair. If a security guard is on the night shift and someone robs your place, guess who's liable?

        What if your OS is insecure and leads to you getting hacked? Did the Technician write the OS? Did the technician get dictatorial control of what OS was used?

        If the technician is a CIO, yes, he gets dictatorial control. And if the OS is insecured and it got hacked, the OS vendor can be

    • by indymike (1604847)
      Outawing stupidity has never worked. Nor has legislating that pi=3.15.
      • by hjf (703092)

        Except this doesn't outlaw stupidity. This just makes sure stupid ones aren't in charge. And if they are, and do stupid things, they go to jail.

  • pot and kettle? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by v1 (525388) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:07PM (#39501117) Homepage Journal

    Anyone else find it ironic that the FBI, of all organizations, (perhaps besides the NSA) is whining about losing to people hacking into our privacy? Isn't that what they do for a living? Not just to "the other people", but to our own citizens all the same nowadays?

    They're grousing over a problem that they're part of...

  • by wanderfowl (2534492) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:09PM (#39501155)

    There are hackers, phishers, spammers, and other untrustworthy people on the internet. The FBI seems to have just realized that they can't prevent them from existing, and now tells us that we'll "never be secure", and people react. But this has always been the case offline as well. There are thieves, murderers, and con-artists, and we can never make them go away either, and as such, here too, we will never be secure.

    That said, if you use common sense, encrypt your important data, don't click links in unsolicited emails, and use a password better than "12345", you'll already be enough of a pain to most "hackers" that they'll not bother, because next door, there's a guy who's got a plaintext full of banking passwords on his desktop with file sharing on.

    There's a saying that if attacked by a hungry bear, you don't need to outrun the bear, just the other people at the campground. Same goes here.

    • by mlts (1038732) * on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:28PM (#39501345)

      The FBI is also dealing with a lot of businesses who have existed for years with at best paying lip service to computer security.

      I remember a few years back so many PHBs saying, "security has no ROI" like it was a mantra for magic success. Of course when I asked the person about what they do if they do get breached, the answer was invariably, "Call Geek Squad, and they will fix it."

      The sad thing is that there is no real drive for private businesses to focus on actual security. A breach happens, and usually it won't be reported, and if it is, it is because there are thousands of people who got nailed and have hard evidence finding who did it upstream. Even though there are laws to disclose breaches with private info lost, it isn't hard to ignore them -- the company top brass will find a fall guy, and the domain admin password will continue to remain "swordfish". Even if the firm goes bankrupt, it doesn't really matter, because the top brass just finds a niche somewhere else.

      There is also the belief that intruders won't do much damage. A wiped box? Stick in a backup tape. Lost customer info? Not our problem if customers get identity theft issues. Lost source code? The H-1Bs end up copying it to their home soil anyway.

      Until the attitude that security is a cost center with nothing to gain back goes away, it is no wonder that criminal organizations and foreign intel departments are having a field day.

      Ironically, where I see actual improvement in security is in government. The main reason is that government departments (and this applies not just to the US but any country out there) have a lot to lose, especially around election years. Companies can fold and the CEO just moves to a new venture, but a government department that is weak on security will face the wrath of the voters, as well as any elected official that is looking to keep their jobs. In countries that are not democracies, it can mean loss of face for leadership which will be swiftly dealt with.

    • by elucido (870205)

      There are hackers, phishers, spammers, and other untrustworthy people on the internet. The FBI seems to have just realized that they can't prevent them from existing, and now tells us that we'll "never be secure", and people react. But this has always been the case offline as well. There are thieves, murderers, and con-artists, and we can never make them go away either, and as such, here too, we will never be secure.

      That said, if you use common sense, encrypt your important data, don't click links in unsolicited emails, and use a password better than "12345", you'll already be enough of a pain to most "hackers" that they'll not bother, because next door, there's a guy who's got a plaintext full of banking passwords on his desktop with file sharing on.

      There's a saying that if attacked by a hungry bear, you don't need to outrun the bear, just the other people at the campground. Same goes here.

      But most hackers aren't the ones who the US government would have to use war powers against. The US government would have to use war powers to stop state sponsored hackers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "...never have a reasonable expectation of privacy or security."

    Yet the same government will step aside when the corporates want to nullify privacy, which means the question is really "from whom" and "for how much money".

  • "We're losing the war against hackers" is the public version.
    "We're losing the war against hackers unless my budget is tripled" is what he tells Congress.
  • by El Jynx (548908) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:19PM (#39501259)
    Information sharing is built into the universe, and so is copying of patterns. Atoms and molecules share electrons in predictable ways, cells communicate with each other, living entities communicate and share in incredibly diverse and complex ways; and once "the cat is out of the bag" it's almost impossible to get it back in. Streisand effects ad nauseum. The war living things wage against each other on so many levels - for example, viruses versus our immune systems - are also a facet of this interaction. We exist in an environment where sharing and communication is fundamental and everything influences everything else in myriad, complex ways. Making something totally secure - in other words, preventing it from interacting with its environment - hence is utterly impossible, or at the very least the amount of energy required to secure something is immense and the result is always imperfect.

    Goes for plagiairism as well. DNA copies itself, kids copy their parents, we copy habits and patterns from each other hundreds of times every day. It's part of our processes for optimalisation and they're also intrinsic to the universe. Thus, things like copyright are also doomed to fail. Here, too, the amount of energy required is huge.
    • A very bland world you live in there. If people do not have individuality (everything is shared with everyone) there is no freedom or responsibility and life is dull and hardly seems worth living. This is why socialist countries on the whole have higher suicide rates. The solution is a meritocracy where the individuals who can succeed do and the government still collects taxes, but not as a punishment and it earns what little money it is permitted to collect.
  • Dr. Strangelove (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:19PM (#39501263) Homepage Journal

    "Mr. President, we must not allow... a hacker gap!"

    Standard tactic for getting the government to spend money on a military-industrial complex project.

  • Doomed to fail (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd2112 (1535857) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:21PM (#39501279)
    Any "war" where there isn't a party who can negotiate terms of surrender is doomed to failure.
    • by regdul (2561319)
      A war where there is no clear enemy can never be won but that's the whole point. If the war will never and you don't ave to take back the restrictions and laws you passed and you don't have to release prisoners of war (doesn't apply to "cyberwars" yet, but see the war on terror). And as a bonus it can't be "lost" either since there's nobody to whom you can surrender.
    • The war on polio went pretty well and I don't remember the disease doing any negotiating on that one.

  • Just like terrorism (Score:4, Interesting)

    by honestmonkey (819408) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:25PM (#39501321) Journal
    You can't really fight terrorism with bullets and bombs, just like you can't fight hackers with some "new" anti-virus program or whatever (at least not for long). But nobody wants to think like that. "If we kill enough of them, they'll stop" doesn't work with terrorists - they're roaches in the walls and you can't get them all without collateral damage or creating yet a different kind of roach. However, all we have are bullets and bombs. "If we build a good enough firewall, it'll stop them" is just a challenge to hackers. Nobody wants to hear "You must completely change how your computers work to have even a ghost of a chance." Instead, it's "How do I fix what I have now?" The answer "You can't" doesn't let you keep your job or make anyone any money.
    • by elucido (870205)

      You can't really fight terrorism with bullets and bombs, just like you can't fight hackers with some "new" anti-virus program or whatever (at least not for long). But nobody wants to think like that. "If we kill enough of them, they'll stop" doesn't work with terrorists - they're roaches in the walls and you can't get them all without collateral damage or creating yet a different kind of roach. However, all we have are bullets and bombs. "If we build a good enough firewall, it'll stop them" is just a challenge to hackers. Nobody wants to hear "You must completely change how your computers work to have even a ghost of a chance." Instead, it's "How do I fix what I have now?" The answer "You can't" doesn't let you keep your job or make anyone any money.

      The way to stop hackers is to create jobs. When there's fewer jobs there tends to be more hackers just like any other type of crime.

      If we are talking about cyber warriors then we are talking about state sponsored hackers and this is actually a war effort because these state sponsored hackers aren't civilians.

    • Thinking of your enemies as roaches is a serious misconception which will cause flawed decisions. Unless they are actual roaches and you work in pest control. However wicked and crazy they might be, terrorists and even hackers are human beings and you better keep that in mind if you don't want them to catch you pants down, just because you underestimated them to be some kind of dumb animal.
  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:33PM (#39501399)

    At least, that is what I got out of the warnings in the article. It wasn't about the FBI needing more money, so much as his discussion of the absolutely deplorable state of most business networks. Most businesses, even IT managers within businesses, seem to think that best security practice means sending someone to a Cisco firewall class, putting an ASA into an external facing connection, and passing a security scan as all they need to stop the bad guys. They never really consider what it means to really monitor the health of a network, or have an understanding of how their internal applications operate across their machines, nor are they willing to really invest in the kind of staffing and knowledge needed to make sure their data is actually secure. In the end, they are better off with making that early investment, because that knowledge also translates into fewer expenditures on gimmicky appliances, and a better focus on having things run right. It is a shame that mostly these businesses are blithely whistling past the graveyard.

    Most businesses seem to miss from the day they replaced their file drawers with a file server, they went from a "widget" company to an IT company that does widgets. It is a subtle but definitive change in how businesses need to focus investments in resources. Unfortunately, most businesses just don't get it. They think because some snake oil dealer slapped "security" on the side of the box that the word means anything.

    What I'd like to see is ACM, the ISC, ISC2 (no relation), and other organizations start pushing for more stringent best practices written into regulation (not law). Basically, if a business doesn't take the effort to invest in their own security, then they should be held liable if they get broken into. Don't expect insurance to pay out. Don't expect to be personally shielded by corporate liability if your client data goes into the wild. On the other hand, if businesses DO meet those standards, then they likewise shouldn't be held liable. I would really like to see the above organizations testifying on the Hill about what that would mean.

    • by Ocker3 (1232550)
      Wait, so you're Not going make a post about the Government's War on Privacy and put up actual facts and try for a reasonable analysis? Fool, this is Slashdot, expect to be modded -1 Troll. *sigh*
  • "I don't see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology

    I.e., treacherous computing [gnu.org], where the computer actually serves the powers-that-be and not you

    or changes in behavior,

    Um.... I got nothing here. People are douchebags. Period. People have been defrauding, trolling, lying, and generally hating since before recorded history, and nothing the government can do the change the basic core of human behavior. Embedding monitoring and control logic into each computing and communications node wo

  • Its only taken them a "few" years to realize this... Yet, the war on drugs is 35(?) years strong now. When will they admit they can't win that one too?

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:39PM (#39501473)

    ... take off and nuke them from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

    • by Anomalyst (742352)

      ... take off and nuke them from orbit. Its the only way to be sure.

      Are you talking about the congressticks or the FBI?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:41PM (#39501495)

    The technology is fine, the problem is the user-centric security that everything employs. There's an alternative called the principle of least privilege [wikipedia.org], which we use all the time in other aspects of life, just not with computers.

    You might be tempted to think you know of a system that actually uses this, but you're wrong. The term capability has a lot of uses, and the application of it in Posix or Symbian systems isn't the same thing.

    Only when we stop assuming that a program should be able to have free run of everything will we be able to fix this problem.

    It's almost like there's an active conspiracy to keep this idea in obscurity..... but probably not.

  • An employee, who is allowed access to files/info, that they then are then copying/sharing/selling... Users who don't log out of their computers, or administrator who give users to much access to things they dont need to see. Is it hacking then the person has a sticky note with this months password on their monitor, or on their pull out keyboard if they think they are being sneaky.
    • by elucido (870205)

      An employee, who is allowed access to files/info, that they then are then copying/sharing/selling...
      Users who don't log out of their computers, or administrator who give users to much access to things they dont need to see.
      Is it hacking then the person has a sticky note with this months password on their monitor, or on their pull out keyboard if they think they are being sneaky.

      Espionage yes but that still involves hackers usually.

  • This is as much a "war" as kids playing with squirt guns in the backyard.
  • If corporations don't care about their own security why is it so important to the US government?

    • by jc42 (318812)

      If corporations don't care about their own security why is it so important to the US government?

      Perhaps because the US government makes a pretense of representing us, the citizens. And poor corporate computer security threatens us, especially since it makes our bank accounts vulnerable to criminals who can exploit the poor security. So it's not surprising that our representatives in Congress might be starting to get the message that there's a problem that's threatening their voters. And, being Congress, they do what the Constitution says is their role: They declare war.

      Yes, this makes no sense a

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        One solution could be to make corporations liable for loss of user data. I'm pretty sure that they would secure their systems surpisingly quickly if they are the ones who have to pay for a breach. That still wouldn't help against industrial espionage though.

    • by elucido (870205)

      If corporations don't care about their own security why is it so important to the US government?

      Our lives are at stake if some dumb corporation doesn't care about security. Some corporations are critical.

  • Over the years I've been subjected to less and less personal data attacks to the point where I can't remember the last time I got a virus. Back in the day I used to be constantly battling with them.
  • by Entropius (188861) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @05:55PM (#39501631)

    I'm able to do my job (high-performance computational simulations in physics) just fine without worrying about "hackers".

    I buy shit off the internet, pay my bills, have cybersex with my girlfriend, play online games, and read the news -- no problems.

    How are we "losing the war on hackers" if I can basically do all sorts of useful crap on the internet without having to greatly alter my patterns of behavior because of hackers?

    I definitely am more worried about non-computer theft (which I've been the victim of quite a few times) than ONOZ HACKERS. Yes, there is computer crime, but it is really not that big of a deal.

    • by Skapare (16644)

      Just wait until your research grant funding account gets drained and sent to Nigeria so they can buy shit off the internet, pay their bills, have cybersex with their girlfriends, play online games (they hacked in to), and read the news about research grants being lost due to hacker breakins.

  • They're just grumpy because others are cutting in on their action. If anyone's going to be violating your right to privacy, it's going to be them!

  • War? hackers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jc42 (318812) on Wednesday March 28, 2012 @06:21PM (#39501975) Homepage Journal

    Solving the problem might require abandoning the "war" metaphor. Declaring this a "war" is a way of allowing the authorities to ignore insignificant (to them) things like legality and morality. The inevitable result, which we're already seeing, is offending a lot of the population by the overreaction and "scorched earth" tactics. Taking down sites without any semblance of due process is guaranteed to hurt a lot of innocent bystanders, and as with real wars, this just turns the population against you.

    This is much like the "war on drugs". Even those of us who don't abuse (or even use) illegal drugs are still very likely to be offended by the atrocities committed by the warriors. Taking people's cars, homes, and sometimes lives without any sort of trial is both wrong and counterproductive, but it's what the "war" metaphor leads to.

    There's also a major problem with the media's expropriation of the term "hacker", which was originally a term of high praise for a technical expert, retargetting (;-) it as a term for an anti-social criminal. This tends to get the message across that people with technical expertise in software security are considered suspect by the media and the general population. You want these people on your side. Characterizing them as criminals isn't the best way to make this happen.

    As long as we have a "war against hackers", I'd expect the problems to get worse. That phrase itself is pretty much a guarantee that the problems won't be approached in a reasonable fashion. It also guarantees that lots of innocent bystanders will be hit by the warlike measures. Even worse, people who could have helped you will be classified as hackers and, uh, "discouraged" from helping find the solutions.

    I'm reminded of the time, back in the 1960s, when a "War on Poverty" was declared here in the US. That one ended rather quickly, as lots of poor people started publicly asking where they could go to surrender. But it's not obvious that the large population of software "hackers" will take this approach. If I happened to be a software expert with some expertise in computer security, where would I go to surrender?

    • by elucido (870205)

      It's a war in the sense that hackers can put lives at stake and get people killed. Yes it's accurate to describe it as a war.

      But I don't think teenage script kiddies are "cyber warriors".

  • US Firewall, here we come!
  • Mr. Henry has earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Hofstra University in New York, and a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. He's a "bureau"crat saying what he's saying for political reasons and/or personal gain rather than any insight or competency. Not that academic credentials are the be all and end all but there's no indication either in his experience or training that would give me any confidence in his independent judgement or unde

  • What do you call a one-sided war, where the opposing side does not even register that you are fighting them, let alone why?

    And this kills me. They want money for a 'war' that doesn't even exist, to produce armaments to fight enemies that do not wear uniforms and rarely act as groups, and to acquire powers which are so completely antithetical to this nation's foundation (super 4th Amendment violation) that merely suggesting the need for them guarantees an involuntary laugh from anyone with some learning in t

  • Introduce an "intenet repair tax" that applies for Windows users. And they can just go on being lazy and fearful of changing to something better designed, but at least they will contribute towards paying for the damage.

  • It's always an epic battle. That is why it creates jobs because there a problems to be solved which aren't easy.

  • "I don't see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior"

    ding, ding, ding, ding

  • Sounds like a "dire prediction" land-grab for an outgoing lunatic who needed to retire MANY years sooner....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Remember that one of the pillars of fascism and other totalitarian societies is the great enemy, which must simultaneously be too strong to defeat and too weak to be defeated by, allowing for a constant state of panic to get people to surrender their rights for.

    For Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish Bolshevist communists who were always about to take over. Obviously in 1984 it was Eastasia. In modern America it's Islamic Terrorism and Hackers.

    I don't want to compare the US to Nazi Germany, we haven't gotten th

  • Do you know where your data is?

  • I don't see how we ever come out of this without changes in technology or changes in behavior, because with the status quo, it's an unsustainable model.

    Sounds like this dude just acknowledged incompetence and volunteered to resign.

  • That's the most important. I currently work for a government agency. Yeah, we're doomed. The private sector doesn't do nearly as bad, especially smaller companies (1000 or so employeees) who are smart enough to hire bright, security-minded admins.

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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