29 Jun 2010

The Cyber Wars

Internet is now a national asset. It has helped in connecting people and also in a lot more things. But as they say, there is always another side to things. And yes indeed there is. Along with the pros of the internet come the cons. But these two elements are there in everything. In some cases the pros are more and in some it’s the other way round. But this here is a unique case.

Internet has had a lot more than its 15 minutes of fame and it is still on it. Internet here is a unique case of how something can be so good and yet so bad. The threat that comes with internet is something major. Something so major that it threatens the entire world as now a days many things are computerised if not all.

Recently the bill ‘Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset’ which was approved unanimously by the US Homeland Security Committee attracted some negative attention with people raising concerns over their privacy on the net. This bill will give the US president the authority to ‘kill the internet’. Some claim it to be the President’s ‘Internet Kill Switch’. This bill would be put to vote on the Senate floor shortly. But it has brought forth the major problems of the net to the public.

The problem is Hacking and identity thefts. These problems are a relatively new thing. Last year and even this year we read many news reports about the hackings that were taking place with the main source being China. Reports claimed that China had its own Cyber Hacking Army. I do not know whether I should believe it or not but the recent hacking carried out from the Chinese Territories gives me reason to believe so.

Many countries have built their own Cyber Army with the US and China leading the pack. But the thing to note is that this might result in the onset of new types of wars, the wars which will involve no bloodshed. They would be called ‘The Cyber Wars’ where one country would hack into the other country’s confidential database and take out information that is of interest or paralyse the entire internet facility within that country.

The worst of these attacks is called ‘A Fire sale’ wherein everything within a country is hacked and rendered useless or paralysed or even controlled. It is best shown in the movie Die Hard 4.0 where the cyber infrastructure of the United States is hacked and controlled by the terrorists. In such a situation, everything in the country that is computerised is controlled by the hackers. And that involved the Traffic Signals which are now days are controlled by computers. Furthermore the entire internet infrastructure can be paralysed which means that people will not have access to the internet.

Then the hackers can get on with damaging the economy as many of the economic activities are carried out via the internet. This may result in losses of over a Billion and more and at times might lead to the worst and that is another Great Depression. Another aspect is the mass media which is by far one of the most important. If they have control over the mass-media then they will have control over what we are seeing. The TV shows and all would be controlled by them. They will show us what they want to show and we will be seeing it.

Seeing the above scenarios it does not come as a big surprise if many more countries adopt laws which control or monitor the internet. But a problem with the internet being controlled or monitor would be the complete loss of privacy. The government would have the right to control the things that we do when on the net. In some of the less democratic countries it might lead to Government tyranny. The government would block access to sites which criticizes them or which it does not feel is appropriate for the internet community to view. And this has already happened in many countries example China and is happening in countries example Pakistan where sites like Facebook and YouTube were blocked for sometime as they were deemed to be immoral.

Thus there are two sides to everything. These two sides prevent us from coming to firm conclusions to such issues. At one hand is the security and on the other is privacy. Thus we are on the tip of a mountain and it would be are decision which would either lead us to a new world or to doom. But the thing to note is that both the decisions are sensible. I being a netizen prefer security but also being a blogger makes me want to choose the right to expression. But whatever is done should not be done to the extreme. As taking any decision and going to the extreme will cause both unhappiness and dissatisfaction.