Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to have to do at least one more post on the debt battle as all the final details wrap up. For now, let's hit a mostly unrelated subject - cyberattacks.

Many people may not have caught it, but about a year ago there was a momentary flap about a brand new computer virus called Stuxnet. Here's a cool video that explains what it was, what it did, and why it was a watershed moment in security circles:

Wow. This is, in a word, incredible. And scary. For a fascinating in-depth read about the whole thing and how it was unraveled, go here.

Stuxnet essentially paralyzed Iran's nuclear facility for a while, though they wouldn't admit it. It appears the U.S. was involved in some capacity, though Defense officials never really admitted as much.

Personally, I hope it was us, at least in part. With all of the recent reports of China's increasingly aggressive attacks and aspirations on U.S. national cybersecurity, it would be nice to know we can still pull off something this gutsy and slick. Since Stuxnet was open-sourced and released to the Internet, though, this could work both ways, and U.S. officials have already expressed concern over the possibility of a Stuxnet-like attack on us. This is probably why they have also announced that any such cyberattack would be considered an act of war, with possible reprisals including military hardware (the
actual exploding kind). This is one policy on which I find myself heartily agreeing with the Obama administration (though I'm very skeptical they would actually pull the trigger if we were attacked through cyberspace, but I suppose you have to start somewhere, right?).

A few months ago, there were rumors of a second Stuxnet-like attack (called the Stars virus) on Iran's facilities, though the details of that one are much less clear. Regardless, it's safe to assume that we are living in the age of cyberattacks, and it is very possible that the next major terrorist attack may involve nothing more than malicious code. But, as Stuxnet proves, malicious code can be devastating.

And here's where we bring things full circle. Would you or would not agree that this is a critical piece of national security? Would it make you feel better to know that the U.S. is fully committed to not only staving off potential attacks against us, but also fully engaged in staying as far ahead of our enemies as possible?

Then ask yourself this: why is Congress congratulating itself on passing a debt default avoidance deal that includes the active gutting of the Defense Department budget?
The deal promises to raise the debt ceiling by the highest amount ever—more than $2 trillion—while reducing spending by close to $1 trillion over the next decade. It envisions 6 percent and 7.5 percent cuts in defense spending from the President’s budget request in February for fiscal years 2012 and 2013, respectively.
How do you feel about picking up the phone and making a couple calls to your representative now?

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