In this digital age, when a teenager with a smartphone can hack into just about anything, liberals have just discovered that nations such as China, North Korea, and Russia routinely attempt to hack into the secret information of the United States and other nations. Liberals are pretty mad about it, or they are pretending to be.
At least, they’re channeling what Moe, Larry, and Curly Joe might have said: “Da noive!”
Liberal hysteria over the last few weeks suggests that our friends on the left might need a little help coming to grips with the realities of the digital age. No one can convince the left that they would have lost the 2016 election even if the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and assorted teenagers with cell phones weren’t hacking into American computers, but a better understanding of the fundamentals of cybersecurity could help our leftist luddites to make the technological leap into the 21st century. With all the talk of megabytes and encrypting and so on, computer language can be pretty scary, so here are some tips from a non-expert using language that even the DNC can understand.
Now, if you’re really concerned about the security of your secret information, you might consider hiring a security expert, or you could just ask your kids.
Let’s start with the basics. Probably the gold-medal-winning, most boneheaded, dumbest thing you can do is to use “password”as your password. It might seem funny at the time, like naming your kid “Name”so that he can type “Name” in the space that asks for his name. But here’s the thing. Hackers are probably going to try “password”even before they try your name, your pet’s name, and your birthday.
Hat tip to John Podesta on that one.
Let’s move on to a practical application. Suppose you’re a high-level government official and you want to do a little pay-for-play business on the side without the pesky authorities sticking their nose in. What do you do?
For those of you who guessed “set up a private, homebrew, non-secure server,” that’s not bad for a first try. But think about that for a minute. What if some foreign spy has been watching Peter Sellers in the old Pink Panther movies and hits on the idea of putting on a false mustache, posing as a telephone repairman, adopting a French accent, and coming to your office “to ruh-pair the phuns?” In comes the spy and out goes your server and all your secret stuff while your staff are busy in sensitivity training. And your staff will just be standing there later telling the FBI, “I’ll bet he wasn’t even French.”
But what if the intelligence services (or some teenager) from another country hacks into your non-secure server? That’s even more likely than the telephone repairman scenario, and it’s the real danger of the “non-secure” part of a non-secure, homebrew server.
Now for a tougher one. What if you’re an even higher-ranking government official and you don’t want your top-secret information to get out? You should watch carefully for the .gov extension on emails. If it’s anything else, such as “email@example.com” then don’t open it! If you do, you can assume that the intelligence community (and teenagers) in other countries have your favorite tunes, your golf schedule, and probably your nuclear codes.
The downside of being hacked is substantial, of course, but there could be an upside. Let’s imagine that you are a politician in a powerful position. And let’s imagine that you and your team have pretty well made a mess of things. Unemployment and underemployment are high; healthcare costs have skyrocketed; you’ve shown more concern for illegal aliens than for citizens of your own country; our friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.
Further imagine word has leaked out to the public that you and your supporters think that the only people who have good sense are the inhabitants of heavily populated cities on both coasts, and that everyone else is pretty much dumb as a soup sandwich.
And now imagine that you’ve just had your clock cleaned in an election that all the experts said you would win in a walk. Suppose the voters gave the person who beat you a clear mandate to hit the “delete” button and scrub your agenda. (No need to cover deleting and scrubbing here; I think you’ve got that part.)
What can you do? You can have show-hearings to divert attention from your failings and try to convince everyone that you were screwed by hackers.
That’s not much, but it’s better than looking in the mirror and asking yourself why the voters just gave you the raspberry heard round the world.
On the other hand, if you’re really concerned about our national security and want to do more than have diversionary show-hearings, you could work quietly behind the scenes to bolster our cybersecurity and not tell the world about it. After all, why advertise your incompetence?
Nah, go for the show-hearings. Nobody will see through that. You know how dumb those voters are.