Jay AmbroseJune 22, 2021, 6:01am
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune. Readers may send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo
President Joe Biden had a three-hour talk last week with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin in Geneva, said he laid down some red lines Russia had darned well not cross and that it was his hope this guy he once called a killer does not want another Cold War. In fact, this killer has already started a war, refuses to call it off by denying he is doing it, and Biden has meanwhile agreed on a project putting Russia’s interests over those of the United States.
Destructive, deadly war, it should be understood, has come to include coffee-sipping, happy hackers right up there with brave, self-sacrificing soldiers, tanks, bombs, artillery bombardment, ships at sea, jets with missiles and all that stuff. These hackers are people who can mess with computers to the extent of depriving society of just about anything. They can take data critical for an operation to survive and fix it so the operation does not survive and there is cataclysm outside the operation.
Consider for a minute something usually referred to as SolarWinds, executed by Russia over about nine months in 2020, a cyberattack that included access to email accounts of dozens of businesses and such federal entities as the Nuclear Security Administration, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Treasury. Described as the “largest and most sophisticated (cyber)attack the world has ever seen,” its full effects may not be known for years of insecurity, but that will not lessen them.
President Donald Trump was pretty much missing in action, but, as his successor, Biden instituted Russian economic sanctions while also, by way of conciliation, announced “now is the time to de-escalate.” Putin instead kept hugging ransomware in which hackers take such computerized information as contracts, all kinds of records, legal statements, procedural guidelines, product details and personnel data and render it indecipherable.
An organization is thereby reduced to helplessness until it sends money getting the crooks to retranslate computerized gibberish into the understandable. Not just businesses, but schools, health facilities and all kinds of vital institutions can be affected. The hits happen at a rate of seven an hour, the annual costs are in the billions, and millions of Americans are affected.