Who controls the internet?
By Misha Glenny
Published: October 8 2010 23:40 | Last updated: October 8 2010 23:40
Squared-jawed, with four stars decorating each shoulder, General Keith Alexander looks like a character straight out of an old American war movie. But his old-fashioned appearance belies the fact that the general has a new job that is so 21st-century it could have been dreamed up by a computer games designer. Alexander is the first boss of USCybercom, the United States Cyber Command, in charge of the Pentagon’s sprawling cyber networks and tasked with battling unknown enemies in a virtual world.
Last year, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared cyberspace to be the “fifth domain” of military operations, alongside land, sea, air and space. It is the first man-made military domain, requiring an entirely new Pentagon command. That went fully operational a week ago, marking a new chapter in the history of both warfare and the world wide web.
In his confirmation hearing, General Alexander sounded the alarm, declaring that the Pentagon’s computer systems “are probed 250,000 times an hour, up to six million per day”, and that among those attempting to break in were “more than 140 foreign spy organisations trying to infiltrate US networks”. Congress was left with a dark prophecy ringing in its ears: “It’s only a small step from disrupting to destroying parts of the network.”
Phi Beta Iota: Of the $12 billion a year to be spent, roughly 90% if not more will be spent on “vapor-ware.” To understand the gap between the 67 people who actually know what needs to be done, and the hundreds of thousands who will be employed in cyber-theater (pun intended), see below. There are multiple sucking chest wounds in this enterprise, the two largest are a) the DoD Grid is a mess with no integrity in the fullest sense of the word, trying to “secure” that mess is next to impossible; and b) the only way to make Pentagon information operations safe is to make ALL operations safe, but this is not how the US Government and especially not how the Pentagon thinks–hence, another decade will be wasted. The upside is that OpenBTS and all sorts of other opens are emergent, and we may all end up going to Web 4.0 while the Pentagon stays at Web 2.0.