(NaturalNews) As reported by recent news headlines, the United States is facing an increased number of cyber attacks against its critical government and private sector infrastructure, two of the most recent being against the White House (in October 2014 and again in early April).
Besides targeting government and defense systems, hackers from around the world — in particular from Russia and China, have been said to have breached U.S. financial and banking firms, power and water infrastructure, and even vital space assets.
The U.S. government understands how big the threat really is. In an outgoing letter to her successor, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned of an impending “serious” cyber attack and potential natural disaster worse than Hurricane Katrina.
Protecting infrastructure is important, but will it limit freedom?
“Many things still need tending, and my successor will most certainly have a full plate on his or her hands,” she said, adding that she faced “many challenges” over the past four years.
In their 2010 book Cyber War, cyber warfare expert Richard A. Clarke and international affairs expert Robert K. Knake noted that both public and private cyber systems were vulnerable to attack, largely because there was no coordination between the federal government and private telecoms to shore up security.
Now, however, it seems as though the Obama Administration believes it has the solution: Full government control over the Internet.
In an Executive Order signed Feb. 13, 2013 and titled, “Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” President Obama noted that the federal government and Department of Defense had identified “critical infrastructure” requiring protection in accordance with the “Classified National Security Information Program created under Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010.”
The order is intended to be all-inclusive, regarding Internet-based services, capabilities and infrastructure:
The national and economic security of the United States depends on the reliable functioning of the Nation’s critical infrastructure in the face of such threats. It is the policy of the United States to enhance the security and resilience of the Nation’s critical infrastructure and to maintain a cyber environment that encourages efficiency, innovation, and economic prosperity while promoting safety, security, business confidentiality, privacy, and civil liberties.
We can achieve these goals through a partnership with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure to improve cybersecurity information sharing and collaboratively develop and implement risk-based standards.
Provisions of the order also give the federal government access to all infrastructure components that are deemed vital to national security; this means “everything from physical power grid components to virtual servers like your web hosting company,” SHTFPlan.com noted.
Cyber kill switch could be misused
This comes on top of earlier reports regarding a DHS plan involving the development of a so-called Internet kill switch.
In November 2013, The Washington Free Beacon reported that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia — the federal court that hears cases involving federal regulations — ruled that DHS’ protocols for the kill switch were exempt from public disclosure, with the agency citing national security as its reason.
“The broad government power to shut down communications networks worries civil libertarians. However, the agency argues the protocols must be kept secret to protect national interests and the safety of individuals,” the WFB reported.
With the increase in cyber attacks — and the country’s ultimate reliance on Internet-based systems and services — it makes sense that the federal government, working with the non-governmental private sector, would want to develop cyber security systems. The concern about a “kill switch,” for example — which purportedly would be utilized in a scenario involving a massive cyber attack on a number of U.S. systems simultaneously, to cut off outside access — could also be used by a tyrannical administration, as a means of cutting off the American population.
Given the increasing use of social media to organize protests and inform populations subjected to censorship, this could be a hugely valuable tool for tyrants.