Saturday, April 17, 2010

Unthinking Reactionaries or Just Constant Opposition: A Case Study on Facebook

One thing that just seems to get me is watching how silly and overreacting people can be sometimes without any apparent clue of what they are talking about. Here is one such case I found on Senator John Cornyn's Facebook page.

The author of the post got hysterical over an article where the military and Senators said they were looking at setting up guidelines for the military to deal with cyberattacks against the United States. If you read the article, there aren't many details but more significantly it doesn't indicate any actual action being put forth other than "looking" at the situation. To that, the author wrote this:


What the hell is going on at the Hill? Are they smoking crack? Are they drunk? This is flippin ridiculous! Where the hell do they think they get this kind of power? WE did not give them this power. HELL NO!!!

Looking at an issue indicates they must be drunk or smoking crack and abusing power? There was no prescription of action. There was no debate about actions being taken. There was simply a plan to look at the situation.

Before we get too far, let me help people understand for a minute. A cyberattack is essentially an attack using a computer. Some might ask, "what are they going to do, hit me with the computer?" Cyberattacks have been going on for a while and many have very little impact, but they can have a major impact. It is so significant that the Joint Chiefs of Staff do a study every two years to see just how vulnerable America is to cyberattack. Some of the threats cited in the past include:

* The ability to shut down an entire city power grid;
* The ability to re-route orders in the military creating potential chaos;
* The ability to hack the banking system causing monetary chaos;
* The ability to blow up certain types of highly explosive buildings;
* The ability to disrupt the food chain across the nation;

And worse. These could kill millions or lose a war, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine going to the store and not knowing if the food in cans, bottles, and packages are safe or deadly. Imagine not knowing if your money would be in the bank tomorrow or electronically transferred half way across the world. Imagine the oil refinery in a near by bay blown up to shut down the harbor and all commerce that might go through it killing a lot of people.

Now, keep in mind, cyberattacks are often hidden by being routed through computers of users, often without them knowing it. It is possible a cyberattack is going through your computer right now as you read this. Many attacks happen everyday and every year, but most are just testing possibilities, few actually do much. But the potential for disaster is still there. And the military has been dealing with it for more than a decade, often unguided and without any oversight. So if you wonder if the military has seen inside your computer already... they probably have, but not by some analyst, but by some computer program that is harmless unless you are a cyberterrorist.

It is a serious issue and one the military has been dealing with for a long time, so to get upset about the government dealing with it now is a little strange and makes little sense. However, what makes people sound exceptionally silly is that they get upset over people looking at a well known problem that has been published about since the 80s.

The odds are good, these posters simply don't have a clue at what they are looking at but they know they don't like the Obama Administration for being Democrats. That is a fundamental problem: unthinking reactionaries that have no clue what they are looking at but are happy to get upset and shout about it.

America demands better from its citizens. All governments founded on Democratic principles do.

No comments: