East Penn Press

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Editor’s View

Thursday, May 18, 2017 by The Press in Opinion

Beware the results of unsecured technological advancements

Many things in life are like a double-edged sword.

A mother’s love can be warm and nurturing. That same “love” can be smothering and controlling.

Fathers and others who coach youth sports teams can draw out the best from young players, or they can be overbearing tyrants more interested in winning than teaching skills that can be used throughout life.

Water and fire are necessary for life. They also can be devastating and deadly.

America’s development of the A-bomb may have saved the world during World War II, but now we fear destruction from its possible use by the loony tunes North Korea dictator Kim Jong un.

Today’s quickly developing computer information technology and related fields have been a godsend for mankind in many areas, including medicine, education and agriculture.

But cyberbullying and identity theft have made life impossible, or nearly so, for many who are victims of ne’er-do-wells and thieves.

And, now, companies and countries across the globe fear having their computers held hostage to ransom demands made by still-unknown cybercriminals.

As the sun rose in the sky early Monday morning, many in the media were wondering how many computer-using Americans would be affected by the newest cyberthreat — the WannaCry ransomware program that began attacking computers in Europe on May 12.

According to some news reports, almost 300,000 computers in 150 countries were attacked by a worm within an email attachment targeting Microsoft Windows Operating Systems to which patches (Microsoft security patch released on March 14) and updates were not applied.

The Shadow Brokers hackers group released the stolen hacking tool on April 14.

Hospitals in England were attacked, causing ambulances to be diverted. Russian banks, companies in Spain, the railway system in Germany and some 30,000 computers in China were held for ransom, $300 in Bitcoin, as the cyberextortion spread.

But, surprise, surprise — guess what agency is believed by many experts in the field to have created the EternalBlue exploit (hacking tool) used by WannaCry?

It was our very own National Security Agency.

You know, the NSA — the agency that had collected metadata from all our telephones.

You know, the NSA — the agency heading the global surveillance programs that Edward Snowden leaked to the world in 2013.

Our own NSA created the nasty malware attacking computers across the globe still using outdated Microsoft Windows.

Microsoft President Brad Smith slammed the NSA and the U.S. government on May 14, warning of the dangers of stockpiling cyberweapons.

“The governments of the world should treat this attack as a wake-up call,” Smith wrote in his blog post. “This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem.

“This is an emerging pattern in 2017. We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability stolen from the NSA has affected customers around the world.

“Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage.

“An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the U.S. military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen.”

Hmmm ... cyberweapons, Tomahawk missiles, nuclear weapons ... all created by the United States.

Maybe the proposed wall along the southern border could be expanded to encircle Washington, D.C. and Fort Meade, Md., the home of the National Security Agency, to help keep our secrets secure.

Deb Palmieri

editor

Parkland Press

Northwestern Press