Throughout history, there is a re-occurring cross-cultural theme where those who have are robbed of their wealth on a large scale by those who have little to nothing. The question to me is not whether it is ethical, as I have no control over it, but how does one adequately defend the things they have created or acquired? In this case, most of us in America are in the same boat.
Oftentimes this takes the form of what they then called barbarians coming in and destroying the rich farmlands and then retreating back into mountainous, deserted, waterways, or forested areas quickly. For historical examples, you have the Goths, Vikings, Mongols, and pirates. For modern examples, we have school shootings, malicious hacking, and terrorism.
Often times a small group of people can dominate a society and take its wealth, because they have nothing to defend. Defense is always more difficult, because you have to defend everything and the attacker only has to attack the targets they select before hand. Sometimes some of the big advantages of the attacker is speed. Many times it is hard to locate the group at any one time, and, if you do there is little to take from them.
Today our society is set up to recreate this same dynamic, by having such a wealth gap in our world civilization. In addition, we keep on allowing our tools for war to spread into the hands of people, who do not care for who we are. Furthermore, in our efforts to control all of society further motivate outsiders to strike back harder and more often.
One of the things inspiring these attacks are that we portray ourselves as better than everyone else morally. Then we later find out that so much of our economic success is caused by the exploitation of others and their wealth. It is hard to say one thing and do another and not have people hear what you are doing more loudly.
Many people cannot prove in a court of law what is happening, because so much of it is classified. But we do know these things are happening and we feel morally compelled to do something about it. I do not believe that the ends justify the means, but both the attacker and defender in this case do.
Most people are not aware of it, but we have had a full scale world war going on for at least 10 years. Every major country and world power is participating. Right now it is a fairly cold war, without people killing each other directly, but that will likely come too in the near future. Some of the biggest casualties are local schools, local governments, and hospitals in rural and inner city locations, in the United States and around the world.
The attack looks like the following concept. The predators pick off the weakest in the herd and the herd doesn’t realize one was taken until they stop running. This can go on indefinitely, but it will eventually reach the scale, where everyone will realize that this is a problem. Then we will be in a very deep mess.
How they could solve this
Any easy way to stop it is to outlaw hacking internationally as a war crime. More importantly, make a public treaty between all these nations that we all, including us, stop hacking each other. Follow this up with a notice that any digital attack will be met with a conventional or nuclear attack.
Basically we are in the process of destabilizing the world, by allowing spy technologies and techniques become both an integral part of the culture and economy of our own country and let it spread to other countries. It is like the proliferation of nuclear weapons that we have taken so seriously and have prevented much of the literal fallout we could have had.
Today our entire economy is based on gathering the information of common people without their consent or ability to refuse from both a technical and practical standpoint.
In such an economy, covert actions of any type are very ineffective, because you cannot hide things very well, when anyone can report something. Basically, the only way you can keep things secret, for any length of time, is to not put them online or in digital form (but this is changing rapidly as well). So effectively, not only do we have no privacy, but neither do the classified elements of our national infrastructure.
Therefore there is no net gain, in further conducting electronic surveillance or doing any covert actions. We can and should learn about the rest of the world and repurpose our clandestine forces to do similar work as we think of the State Department doing. We, as a nation, in one of our government agencies, need to learn other world languages and read local news in the native language. Open source revolutionized the software industry and it could do so as well in the classified agencies. In this case, the information source is open rather than the software or the end analysis.
So we need not worry about compromising national security, in ceasing to antagonize other nations and proliferate classified tools, by being as China calls us - a nation of hackers.
What we can do
So obviously people in the position to change this have already chosen to ignore this idea and continue on full speed in a reckless manner. I have a hard time believing they hadn’t thought of the same idea well before I am writing about it today. But for individuals, what can we do? Do fight this and don’t just give up, because the information will be used against you and the wealthy don’t care yet.
Rely as little as possible on technology and specifically on where things get more automated and easier for us but more complicated for the computer. These types of technology are notoriously completely reliant on outside infrastructure and expertise to work perfectly every time or else you lose something important.
Keep the complexity down and learn everything you can about things, especially the history of computing. Understand basic things like the number of errors in code is always more for products with more users, but that is because more of them have been reported. Use as simple a method as you can for important things like security tools and backups (in terms of complicated for the computer to do, not you).
Be aware of what is going on in the computing world and have some security common sense. Realize that the news only reports on divisive things and most hackers are seeking things that make people look bad. There is nowhere to hide anything and doing so will make you look more like an attractive target. Once something becomes common enough it is no longer reported on, even though it is likely still very important to be aware of.
Understand basic things about business trends, like that businesses are optimized for what is cheapest in the short time and no other considerations are made. Once someone has sold you something, they have no interest in you. Be wary of things that are too cheap or too easy.
There is always a cost to everything. Businesses don’t like working with you anymore than you like working with them. People are annoying and hard to work with and this won’t change in a positive way anytime soon.
Don’t trust encryption, because we are all dependent on prime numbers being random for almost all encryption. If and when this is found to have a pattern, we get significantly more processing power, or your hardware and software age, nothing can be effectively protected that way. This is also true even when smart people make great security products with few errors and a good design and keep it up to date.
The big takeaway from this is to learn about our world today and our world today is run on machines. We need to learn as much as possible about important computer developments and keep up to date on them as the situation evolves rapidly. But also read about computer history, because you will need to understand basic concepts and, as we all know, history repeats itself.
Today your valuables may be safer in your own house than being accessible digitally. This is something to consider to understand the gravity of digital security. What makes something easy for you makes it easier for the hacker as well. Most developing security technologies help the attacker as much as the defender.