Posted by: SWL | February 23, 2013

Chinese Hacking Highlights US Government’s Inability to Protect Federal Computer Data

In the wake of a recent report with detailed information about cyber espionage by the Chinese, the US government says it will do more to ensure internet security. I am not reassured.

About 150 companies have been hacked and information stolen. Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has said that many companies did not want to give testimony to his committee because they do business in China and fear retribution.

Most of us have not yet felt any direct effect from this hacking. Unfortunately, us common folk are almost totally at the mercy of our government’s ability to stop cyber attacks. There are concerns being expressed that the Chinese could shut down part or all of the US power grid, if they chose. Besides power in our homes, most everything else in our lives would be affected. No way to keep fresh and frozen foods appropriately cold at grocery stores or home, no cash from ATMs, bank vaults with electric locks or timers would not open, you could not pay bills online. And how long could radio stations transmit information to our battery powered radios?

On the home front, the group Anonymous has hacked into the computer systems of businesses and government agencies. If the government cannot stop that, how will they stop the Chinese, who are probably using some of their best computer scientists? And if they cannot stop Anonymous and other hackers, how will they secure the electronic medical records required under the Affordable Care Act? I was already unhappy about government interference between me and my doctor and my insurance company. Now with confirmation of our government’s inability to stop hacking, we can figure that eventually everything about us will be out on the Web, putting our privacy, identities and finances at risk. (Medical forms currently ask for information such as Social Security number, employment, address, phone, spouse or parent’s Social Security number and employment.) If there is a database, hackers will try to crack it.

When I choose to do business or post something online, I evaluate the risks and am careful not to reveal unnecessary personal information. Once we are forced to give our most important personal information to the government, we have no control over our privacy and security. The Chinese are not the only threat.

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