Issues in the news and their impact here at home
You read every day that we live in an internet world. Particularly with young people, I seldom have to wait 10 minutes in their presence before they pull a cell phone or other device from their pocket and engage in communications with people far and near.
However, this past week there have been some serious warning signs about the vulnerabilities of this marvelous means of communication.
Facebook, a popular disseminator of messages through this medium, announced that data from 29 million of their individual accounts had been compromised. This included the names of the account holders, their phone numbers and their email accounts.
On the one hand this seems terrible, but long ago when I was growing up, publicly available phone books provided much of the same information and I don’t recall any panic over that.
A second article this week was more troubling. An analysis of our newest military weapons systems concluded that they too were subject to hacking.
This could offer the possibility of two quite negative outcomes. First, in the case of a major military conflict, it could render many missiles incapable of flight and seriously limit the use of our most sophisticated aircraft, or disorient nuclear submarines.
The Pentagon is still completing a study on this issue for Congress to determine which of the weapons in our $1.6 trillion arsenal might be affected and how they might be protected.
I understand that many of our readers may not have a daily concern with protecting the military weapons systems, but I suspect any technology that can seize control of a ballistic missile, can do the same with my bank account.
Given the addiction of so many young people (and not just young people) to these marvelous devices that give us access to global communications through an 8 ounce device in our pocket most days, it may be time to be more cautious about the over reliance on these new wonders of technology and encourage the producers to make far more investment in the security of them.
(John Reppert is an Anna native and former editor of The Gazette-Democrat. He served in the U.S. Army, rising from the rank of private to brigadier general. He earned a PhD in international relations and taught at the University of Maryland. He also served as the executive director of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center. He can be contacted by email at email@example.com.)