Last weekend, I was sitting in front of this computer, getting ready to write an editorial when the screen changed and an official-looking notice came up from ”Internet Security” telling me that my computer had been infected with some virus and that for $29.95, I could get rid of it.
Of course, the only virus that had infected my computer was from “internet security”; and restarting the machine in safe mode while updating my real security program got rid of the virus.
But consider this:
What if I had not written my first Fortran program on an IBM 360 in 1966 and I didn’t have the knowledge to recover the use of this tool immediately?
Or, more to the point, what if the Russian or Chinese hacker who was masquerading as “internet security” had written a virus which wasn’t so easy to defeat?
A broadband connection to the internet is a beautiful thing, but it is also the highway on which the next war may well be fought.
Communist China (which we used to call Red China) and the Russian states (which we used to call the Soviet Union) have hackers with great skills.
What if they were to use those skills at the request of the governments of those two nations that really don’t like us very much? What if they are already?
Do you really think our government would protect you?
Do you really think it can? It would appear that our government cannot protect itself, much less its citizens.
Most people these days have become dependent on that pipeline to the information superhighway, and it is highly doubtful they understand the potential risks.
Forget the privacy issues. What happens if you yourself could no longer access your own critical information?
Do you have a computer in your home or business that is completely isolated from the outside world?
You should. Not every computer needs an internet connection, and not every network should be connected to anything outside of itself.
It seems counterintuitive in a completely connected world, but do you allow anyone walking by your house access to your safe? Do you hand out keys at the mall?
You do if you have all of your critical information, software, and documents on an internet-connected computer and no backup in case some Chinese hacker destroys your access to that computer. Like what could have happened to me last weekend.
As cheap as these things are these days, it would behoove you to have a second, unconnected computer in your home (or business) on which you have critical software, critical documents, and critical information.
And the more dependent on the internet you are, the more you need the unconnected machine as well. It’s just as important as food and water and ammunition.
Immediately after 9-11, our banking system shut down for normal business.
Could you live without your credit, debit, and prepaid cards for a week?
Could you live without internet access for a week?
I hate to go all Glenn Beck on you, but suppose our financial system gets shut down by hackers and your cards no longer work. How would you feed your family? What if the cell phone networks go down?
You don’t have to be a survivalist in rural Idaho to see the implications here.
It’s not a matter of conservative, liberal, Republican, or Democrat.
It’s a matter of seeing potential threats that have only come about in the past 10 years.
If 9-11 were to happen in 2013, how well would our electronic systems cope?
The true answer is that we have no idea. And, because we have no idea, maybe it would be a good idea to prepare for the concept that your government saving you is not an answer.