Mass dis­rup­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

The phe­nom­e­non of last week’s wide­spread cy­ber­at­tack, us­ing weapons de­vel­oped by the United States Na­tional Se­cu­rity Agency to dis­rupt ma­jor com­puter op­er­a­tions all over the globe, is not sur­pris­ing, but it does call for ur­gent ac­tion.

The vil­lains of U.S. Western movies at one point were the peo­ple who sold re­peat­ing ri­fles to Na­tive Amer­i­cans to use in place of their bows and ar­rows. In mod­ern times, weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion grew much more lethal when the United States de­vel­oped the atomic bomb, in­tended to end World War II more rapidly, but the tech­nol­ogy then got handed to the Soviet Union.

More re­cently, Amer­ica’s and oth­ers’ cy­ber­weapons cre­atively have been used to mess up Iran’s nu­clear en­rich­ment pro­gram, us­ing the com­puter worm known as Stuxnet. It also ap­pears that U.S. cy­ber­ac­tion has been used to gum up North Korea’s rocket launches.

The prob­lem now is that some of the clever pro­ce­dures NSA de­vel­oped have leaked out, or have been de­vel­oped in­de­pen­dently by peo­ple in base­ments and else­where in Kiev, Moscow and Py­ongyang, and are be­ing used as they were last week from Ukraine to sabotage im­por­tant sys­tems. The NSA is show­ing it­self to be leaky. The lessons that must be drawn are, first, that the NSA must but­ton up its files and tech­niques much more tightly, and, sec­ond, that what­ever cy­ber­weapons we have, we must also stay ahead in that game in our ca­pac­ity to pro­tect our own cy­ber in­fra­struc­ture.

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