by Stephen Bryen
The resignation of the Director of OPM is far from a solution to the massive data breach which now jeopardizes the privacy of millions of Americans and creates a national security threat of unknown and unprecedented dimension.
Worse yet, the government does not have a clue how to fix the problem. We have the dumbest leaders and managers in the world, and the stupidity is so extreme that there is not a single organization in the government capable of advancing a fix to the cyber threat problem. Administrations and Congress have been talking about all this for years and passing meaningless legislation that has improved nothing. Meanwhile America’s adversaries are mining the gold that we as taxpayers underwrite, by stealing our technology and penetrating our entire critical infrastructure such that in any war everything will be shut down: power, water, communications, transport, food supply, fuel –the lot. The simple minded folks in Washington blow billions of dollars on non-fixes and hire countless of security experts who would not know what to do in a traditional war. What makes anyone think they will know what to do in a cyber war?
The Pentagon stood up an organization to combat cyber crime by fighting fire with fire. But so far as anyone can tell, they are incapable of doing this because they do not have any rules of engagement and, in any case, have barely an idea of what targets they should address.
There are two major cyber issues afflicting America.
The first is network integrity. Because we universally rely on crappy commercial software to run our networks, built primarily for accessibility and entertainment, any idea of imposing a security envelope on them is pie in the sky. They are untrustworthy junk. Every network is totally vulnerable to denial of service attacks and a host of other penetration schemes for which they are not only ill prepared, they are not prepared at all.
The second issue is protection of information, which our government has proven that it cannot be trusted to carry out the task. There are billions of records and tons of information ranging from the technological to the personal, from financial to health, that are mishandled by the government all the time. None of the information is protected by encryption. None of it is restricted by need to know. Not only is it careless and sloppy; it is criminal. The answer is straightforward but, for idiotic institutional reasons (the information is not classified) it is not safeguarded with encryption and compartmentalization.
So what are the answers.
The first is that a sort of Manhattan Project is needed to replace garbage commercial software the government uses for its networks. This Plan should also include all the critical infrastructure. A Manhattan Project will be tasked in two years to replace all the garbage with an impenetrable system that works; a system that is kept secret from our enemies; and perhaps even lives on a separate Internet, not the commercial one that is killing us all.
The second is that all government data should be classified which then will require that it is encrypted. This will stop the nonsense that government officials say they can’t encrypt non-classified information. The easy solution: classify everything. Collective stupidity is a disease and sometimes it needs a cure that revivifies the dead. You can be sure the government brain is dead. It must be fixed.
One of the great problems of government is there is no collective or individual responsibility or accountability. People screw up and get away with it and the taxpayer is raped over with consistent success. I am happy the head of OPM resigned, but what about her rotten security staff or the equally inept and incompetent morons who run all the other government agencies. They keep getting their paychecks.
Fire the lot. Get new people. Put a Manhattan Project in place. Classify everything and only release what you have to selectively. Take critical infrastructure protection not as a casual “wanna do” but as a national security imperative. Most of all, fight the war and don’t trust anyone to do it for you.