“Stroke of the pen, law of the land ... kinda cool.” This nugget spoken by former Clinton adviser Paul Begala seems more than anything to be the guiding principle of the Obama Administration.
As is being widely reported, the White House is currently drafting an executive order giving the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) power to establish standards of cybersecurity purportedly protecting the “U.S. power grid from electronic attacks.”
BusinessWeek describes the new program as a “a council that would work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to establish the cybersecurity standards.”
Of course, the information being leaked about the proposed edict makes it clear that the adoption of such standards will be voluntary.
The threshold question that arises from the announcement of such a radical step toward federal control over our information infrastructure is not being answered. That is: Is the power grid of the United States being regularly attacked?
In a word: no. As Michael Tanji of Wired pointed out in a recent article refuting the government’s insistence that we are the target of frequent cyberattacks, “To start, these systems are rarely connected directly to the public internet. And that makes gaining access to grid-controlling networks a challenge for all but the most dedicated, motivated and skilled — nation-states, in other words.”
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