Hackers: Let's Hire Them Before It's Too Late
There are lessons we can draw from these stories. None are particularly comforting.
- Hacking and the creation of spying tools that are distributed online are now standard operating procedure for nations large and small. Stuxnet, Flame and the Chinese government's widely reported collusion with practitioners of corporate espionage prove that arsenals of powerful cyber weapons exist. This is an arms race on which we cannot afford to fall behind. It is being waged in the sanctity of our homes and businesses and bank accounts. The barbarians are not only at the gate -- they are in our computers.
- Hackers are smart, creative and relentless. Given time and resources, they managed to partially shut down a rogue state's nuclear centrifuges. They've also breached the likes of the CIA and the Department of Justice, not to mention thousands of corporations around the globe.
- The code that makes up the hacker arsenal is nearly impossible to control. Even under the best conditions, in a top-secret program run by arguably the world's best spy agencies, the Stuxnet code leaked to the Internet and nearly caused President Barack Obama to shut the entire operation down.
No one really knows how this story will play out, but the trends all seem to be heading in a pretty scary direction. One thing is clear: The Cold War concept that mutual assured destruction keeps super-powered missiles in their silos doesn't apply here.
I have one recurring nightmare: What if an anti-everything organization (let's not pick on anyone unnecessarily) managed to create a network of hackers and pay them well, and these hackers, the best in the world, were joined together to shut down part or all of our critical infrastructure? There would be an economic meltdown the likes of which has never been seen.