What a week ol' Barry's been having in Washington! First, there was that scoop about the NSA spying on all the Verizon customers. Then, there was this PRISM scandal about how intelligence agencies are basically spying on everyone all the time. Now, there's news that he's making a hitlist of foreign countries to hit with cyberattacks when the time is right. There's probably some spying involved in that, too.
Details of Obama's latest directive—which was drawn up last October—have been revealed by The Guardian's national security hawk Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill who say the step "will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet." And, taken at face value, it probably will. That's probably why the National Security Agency (NSA) refused to disclose the details of the plan after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information Act request to see the document. (You can read the full document here.)
It's not like a militarized internet is a new idea. The precursor to the internet's, ARPANET, was built by the military for heaven's sake. It's not like Vint Cerf and friends were trying to create a better way for us to shopping or stay in touch with our friends from college. This amazing thing that we call the internet was a national security weapon from the beginning, even if we didn't use it as such.
This is more or less what the administration has said about the new plan. "Once humans develop the capacity to build boats, we build navies," an unnamed senior administration official told The Guardian. "Once you build airplanes, we build air forces." And so once we built the internet, we started to build a cyber army.
It's been decades in the making, but the United States Hacker Army is finally starting to show its stripes. A little less than a year ago, the Pentagon revealed for the first time that it had been developing not only tools for cyber defense but also weapons for cyber offense. This wasn't a huge surprise, since most experts agree that the highly sophisticated Stuxnet malware deployed in Iran was built by the U.S. and Israel. Since then, we've been learning about some of our new cyberwar tactics, including but not limited to shooting down satellites and spying on Americans.
Honestly, though, there's not much new in this whole strategy besides the president's 18-page policy directive that makes America's cyber strategy official. We've been breaking into other countries' computers for ages. "We hack everyone everywhere," an intelligence officer told Greenwald and MacAskill. "We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world." [The Guardian]