If you carefully follow President Obama's announcement regarding his desire to appoint a "Cyber-Czar", you're going to hear something EXTREMELY important at the end. "From now on, our digital infrastructure, the networks and computers we depend on everyday, will be treated as they should be, as a strategic national asset."
I want to educate a little bit today, perhaps someone will actually pay attention. Allow me to give a little professional background on myself, that I generally stay away from, honestly because it causes prejudice and controversy, more often than not.
I am a medically retired United States military veteran, from two branches of service, the US Army and the US Navy. While in the US Navy I was a Missile Technician assigned to a Trident ballistic missile submarine, hey, somebody's gotta do the job. In essence, Missile Technicians, in the Navy, handle the "care and feeding" of nuclear capable missiles. Sounds all fancy and super-duper doesn't it, well it isn't.
You the taxpayer, do not have to worry about "hackers", notorious awful video game players who can cause your life savings to evaporate at the click of a mouse (yeah, right) to be able to interfere with, disable, or in any fashion monkey with the United States nuclear deterrent.
In order for technology, and things have improved and sped up the last few years, to be accepted by the military, absolutely ridiculous standards must be met and exceeded, thus why a screwdriver costs that rumoured 600 US$. The reason is simple, the crew of a submarine can not stop off at the local undersea Wal-Mart and pick up a new screwdriver, "if" theirs breaks, and there is a relatively small amount of room for storage of spares on a submarine. I should know, I've lived on one. That screwdriver is x-rayed, goes underneath scans that most people couldn't afford (without insurance) to have completed on their own bodies for health reasons. Now, I do realize that there is indeed graft and misappropriation in regards military supply funds. So long as there are people, human beings, involved, there will always be graft, call me a cynic.
The point is, such systems as those that control the United States nuclear arsenal are not freaking connected to the internet, they are stand-alone systems, so without a hacker being in physical proximity to said systems (and in my case he'd have had to have been one HELL of a swimmer for that to happen), we're gonna be Ok. "Hackers" was a fun movie, that's pretty much it folks, best part being a young Angelina Jolie.
Declaring "anything" a "strategic national asset" places it under all sorts of new rules, and this becomes dangerous ground, rapidly. During my personal tenure in the military, it was entirely expected that the hull of a ballistic missile submarine, since that was the container for nuclear capable missiles, would be, especially after 9/11 and the U.S.S. Cole bombing would be granted the extra protection they needed by being declared "strategic national assets". They were not. To my personal knowledge, these hulls still are not so classified.
Now, what the hell is going on, when my online gaming and banking experience can become a strategic national asset and the boat carrying nuclear bombs isn't? The mind wobbles under the strain of trying to get that one into some sort of sane framework.
Here's an absolutely fantastic piece, written by Robert A. Miller and Irving Lachow for the publication "Defense Horizons", Issue 59, January 2008. The authors bring up valid points, and in the extreme, nothing can be not considered a national asset.
The problem lies in what a "Czar" is, how they are chosen, their overwhelming lack of oversight (they're not elected, they're appointed) and the tax dollars that are going to be doled out to protect our newest declared strategic national asset. Marines can be deployed and a fence thrown up around the local ISP if things go too far here. The appointment of another "Czar" is not something we need, appointing these "Czars" frankly runs contrary to democratic government. Where are we represented in the process? We elect a President, and suddenly, he can create Czar positions to micro-manage national assets, while pulling in a fat government paycheck. I'm not happy when either party does it, and neither should you be. Less government spending is what we need, not more, needlessly and shamefully.
Good night and good luck
11 months ago