Hacker movies are one of my favorite genres, and have been for a long time. Go figure. One of my favorites from the “olden days” is the 1992 movie “Sneakers.” In this movie Robert Redford and his merry band of cybersecurity testers are tasked with the recovery of a mysterious “black box” which basically can solve for any type of encryption that was in use at that time. At one point in the movie the blind hacker discovers that the block is spelling out the phrase “no more secrets.” Which is basically the central question of the film – what happens in a society where there are no secrets?
Good news – we are living in those times! I just finished reading an article by Bruce Schneier titled ‘Organizational Doxing.” It originally appeared on CNN.com, and can be read in its entirety on his blog. Worth the read.
Basically, the article focuses on a type of cyber-attack that is not money motivated, but where information, especially secret information, is exfiltrated and later exposed to public view. Here is the short list:
- Office of Personnel Management, presumably by the Chinese Army. Release of 20 million records including detailed background checks of people with Federal and military security clearances.
- Ashley Madison, the dating site for cheaters and philanderers. The attackers, calling themselves Impact Team, have threatened to release this trove unless Ashley Madison and a companion site shut down permanently.
- Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia on Wikileaks.
- Italian cyber-weapons developer Hacking Team, especially information about the totalitarian governments that they have sold their products to.
- Sony Corp by the North Koreans in retaliation for the movie “Dictator.”
- Cyber-weapons manufacture HBGary Federal by LulzSec.
- NSA by Edward Snowden
- US State Department by Chelsea (Bradley) Manning to Wikileaks.
No more secrets.
Regardless of where your beliefs fall in this conversation, one of the results of all this information leakage has been an increase in transparency. Average Joes and Janes like you and me get to know what is going on. This is a good thing in an open, free, and democratic society. Secrets strengthen the power elites, whether governmental or corporate, who use them to control the rest of us in one way or another, whether the goal is to sell us more stuff we really don’t need or getting us to live in a constant state of fear from things like “terrorists.” Tell me that you are not watching what you write online or say when one the phone or communicating in any form electronically. But at least we know for a fact that our government is spying on us, no longer just a suspicion of the ultra-paranoid. So perhaps “no more secrets” is a good thing for society at large.Share