The military-industrial complex of the Cold War era has morphed into the cybersecurity-military/industrial-Homeland Security complex of the Cyber War era " to which there is no end in sight. With the cybersecurity industry creating the technology required to stem the very cyberattacks they are in charge of discovering and monitoring, we face an endless cyberarms race that will undoubtedly be fed on exaggerations of the virtual menace and our vulnerability to it.
On the heels of the fear and hysteria will come the firm push for strict control and regulation of the Internet. It will be championed by government and industry as the necessary response to cyberwar, cyberterrorism, and cybercrime which, since cyberspace is considered a "strategic national asset," are essentially all the same.
The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) for instance, which is scheduled for a vote in 2012, will take a page from the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2012. In order to protect the rights of copyright holders to profit from their intellectual property, SOPA would permit the dissolution of due process and open the door wide to censorship and the denial of the right to free speech. The bill, supporters suggest, is not just about recovering the billions lost to bootlegged movies and music, rather, it's about protecting the military strength that ultimately depends on economic vitality.
We agree with The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has called SOPA the most extreme, anti-Internet, anti-privacy, anti-free speech copyright proposal in US legislative history. It is, however, only one of many legislative proposals likely to be steamrollered through Congress in the coming year.
Computer security expert Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kaspersky Labs, envisions the "passportization" of the Internet. In his opinion, to access critical online services, such as banking or electronic voting, "it should be made mandatory to log-on only with the use of a unique personal identifier [for example, a token -- a sort of cyber-passport] and establish a secure authoring connection."
Microsoft has proposed what it calls a "public health model" for the Internet. Cybercitizens would be required to have a "clean bill of health," make their computers open to inspection, and, if contaminated by a virus or other malware, be prepared for quarantine.
President Obama's National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace is pushing for development and public adoption of Internet user authentication systems that will function as a driver's license for the cyberhighway.
Government control of the flow of information will strike a blow against Internet anonymity and the free speech it has made possible. Driver's license, bill of health, passport, whatever you call it -- it's all about the ability to track and control the individual. Today, traffic in copyrighted digital material is the criminal behavior supposedly under attack; tomorrow, it will be the ability to speak out against corrupt government.
Hello, Big Brother.
Trendpost: The demand for ever-more effective cybersecurity tools to counter the ever-more inventive depredations of cybercriminals and cyberwarriors will be with us far into the foreseeable future. Clearly, this situation will create many jobs, both for the formally educated and the creative hacker. In addition, The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education -- established to provide cyber-awareness training to students in Kindergarten through post-graduate programs -- will need many specialized teachers.
Somewhat farther along on the timeline, there is a high likelihood that the manufacture of cyber-components will be repatriated to the US. The 2011 Department of Defense's "Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace" notes: "The majority of information technology products used in the United States are manufactured and assembled overseas. The reliance of DoD on foreign manufacturing and development creates challenges in managing risk at points of design, manufacture, service, distribution, and disposal."
A high probability exists that 2012 will bring revelations about contamination in the global IT hardware and software supply chain and proof that computer components are providing our "enemies" with entry to critical networks or transmitting sensitive information to them. This will turn the DoD's security concern into a hot imperative.