1570 – Clampdown

It’s Tuesday night, this image is the only one that I made yesterday, and although I intended to use one of the river images instead (there are still a few left), today’s news made me reconsider.

Today we have found out, that Austria’s government has plans for an “Internet Kill Switch”.

Of course they didn’t announce it publicly, but when it made the news (here’s the news report, here the original source, both German only, sorry), the government tried to weasel out. As all the time when a government tries to restrict our rights, it is supposed to be “only for our best”.

They argue it is necessary to protect us from cyber warfare, violent virus outbreaks and terrorist attacks over the Internet.

Have you ever heard of such BS??? To protect the network infrastructure, they want to shut it down???

Well, I’m only too willing to accept their incompetence as an excuse, but not in such a blatant case. No, I am sure they know exactly what they are proposing, and I am sure that it is not to protect us from outside enemies, it is to protect THEM from US. After all, there is only one, only and EXACTLY ONE REASON imaginable, why a government would like to clamp down on communication. Look at what happens in Egypt, and then you know it.

OK, let’s assume they are only idiots. So now once again for idiots: The network is the resource that needs protection. Shutting it down would be about as clever as committing suicide for fear of being shot. It’s absolutely the wrong thing, right?

Now that this is clear, let’s look at what really needs to be done.

Remember Stuxnet, the virus, that was constructed to damage a certain very specialized kind of machinery, that is mostly used in nuclear power plants, and there in the process of creating nuclear material that can be used in a bomb? Rumor has it, that it was a joint effort of Israel and the USA, designed to take out a weapon factory in Iran.

Well, since that event some months ago, it is fashionable in political circles to rant about cyber warfare, and of course they have all the metaphors wrong.

A cyber war, if it happens, cannot be likened to the dropping of bombs. The Internet was designed to withstand all sorts of catastrophes and even wars, it began as a military network after all. It does so by being highly de-centralized. In order to implement something like a “Kill Switch”, we would have to centralize control, and that would be the very thing that would make it vulnerable. Instead of protecting us, a “Kill Switch” would make it easier for any attack.

Two things need to be done:

  • de-centralized redundancy needs to be extended
  • critical resources need to be taken off the Internet

The first measure would just strengthen the network’s built-in resilience, and the second is, what I expect a responsible government to do. There is no reason why critical power plants need to be networked over the Internet. There is also no reason why those resources should run on Microsoft Windows, the #1 target for all hackers and script kiddies alike.

Sure, it’s cheaper, but we all know how vulnerable computers are. It is stupid to unnecessarily expose power plants and oil refineries to risk, just to save some money. Take them off the Internet. Use isolated networks inside of those resources. Don’t rely on firewalls and virus protection, isolate them physically.

Well, this is just what I can come up in a few minutes, but it would protect our country’s critical infrastructure much better than every “Kill Switch”. That’s what has to be done if the government really wants to protect us. Shutting down private and commercial communication would only lead to chaos, and their desire, to be able to do so, is nothing but suspicious.

A few day ago I saw an image with the slogan “If your government shuts down the Internet, shut down your government”, and that is exactly what we should do.

The Song of the Day is “Clampdown” from the 1979 Clash album “London Calling”. A fine match, I think. “Revolution Rock” from the same album would have been fitting as well 🙂

Hear it on YouTube.

2 thoughts on “1570 – Clampdown”

  1. Don’t assume they are idiots, rely on it. Idiots in power takes it to another level. Idiots in power most likely have something to hide. Think WikiLeaks.

    I like your thoughts about isolation of vital data. The internet needs to run free, but there are many things that should not be accessible via the net.

  2. Bravo! Well said. Why anyone wants governments to have more power, when we see over and over that so many people in government are incapapable or worse, is beyond me.

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