Cyber Warfare – The Strange Case Of Congressional and Economic Blindness

 

Cyber Warfare – The Strange Case Of Congressional and Economic Blindness

History – One example of a shining US star that crashed, burned, or was absorbed by other companies who are no longer located in the US.

In 1957 Digital Equipment was founded. It was founded initially to make electronic modules for test, measurement, prototyping and control markets. Eventually it became was a major American company in the computer industry from the 1950s to the 1990s. DEC was a leading vendor of computer systems, including computers, software, and peripherals. Their PDP and successor VAX products were the most successful of all minicomputers in terms of sales. Beyond DECsystem-10/20, PDP, VAX and Alpha, DEC was well-respected for its communication subsystem designs, such as Ethernet, DNA (DIGITAL Network Architecture: predominantly DECnet products), DSA (Digital Storage Architecture: disks/tapes/controllers), and its “dumb terminal” subsystems including VT100 and DECserver products.
Where is DEC now? COMPAQ acquired DEC in 1998. At the time of acquisition, DEC was a major overseas player. COMPAQ eventually merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2002.

The information trail on these research centers is sketchy, but from what I found:

At the time of Hewlett-Packard purchase the two companies of computers had melded together and had 3 research locations in Palo Alto, CA and 1 each in Cambridge and Maynard, Massachusetts, as well as one in Paris, France.
Western Research Center (originally DEC System Research was the hub at one time for the Modula-3 programming language; the snoopy cache, used in the first multiprocessor workstation, the Firefly, built from MicroVAX 78032 microprocessors; the first multi-threaded Unix system, Taos; the first user interface editor; early networked window systems, Trestle. AltaVista was jointly developed by researchers from DEC’s Network Systems Laboratory, Western Research Laboratory and Systems Research Center.
HP eventually absorbed the center and moved it to another location.
Network Systems seems to have been a combination of the three Palo Alto sites and continue apparently to function as a research information hub until 2015 under HP since articles appear in an archive until that year.
The Cambridge Research Lab became a serious computer group that inspired other such labs in the area.  Apparently funding losses had the center shut down in 2007.

Now many universities seem to have computer research labs. Each equally dependent upon components from out of country manufacturers and dependent upon grants and funding. It appears that the funding is from other areas of the world who then move the results to their labs for refinement and manufacturing.

Where are those research centers today? In the case of DEC absorbed by HP, some possibly moved to INDIA since that is where HP Labs is located, absorbed into obscurity, or shut down due to funding losses.

That is but one example of how quickly things have changed and become nothing or moved off to other countries in search of lower cost manufacturing,more intensely supported research, and parts for internet usage. Americans have plainly lost not only the pool of research edge but also have nearly lost all manufacturing of component parts for computers or electronic gadgets.

The US Dept. of Commerce Economics and Distribution put out report in 2014 or 2015 that painted a bleak picture of assembly line companies in the US.

According to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS), the computer and electronic products industry engages in the production and assembly of computers, computer peripherals (including items like printers, monitors, and storage devices), communications equipment (such as wired and wireless telephones), and similar electronic products (including audio and video equipment and semiconductors). It also includes establishments that manufacture components for these products.

Production in this industry relies on highly innovative technology, such as specialized processes using integrated circuits, and new technology is continuously incorporated into designs to make products in this industry faster, smaller, and more powerful.4 Research and development from this industry has been responsible for much of the productivity growth throughout manufacturing since the late 1990s. Electronic products other than computers account for the vast majority of current output; although U.S. factories turn out very few PCs, they are major producers of semiconductors and search and navigation equipment — including aircraft instruments, flight recorders, and navigational instruments and systems.

Only 23 percent of computers and electronic products purchased by U.S. consumers and businesses in 2012 were domestically made. In 2014, imports totaled $364.7 billion, or 19 percent of total imports of manufactured goods. The only two industries in computer and electronic equipment manufacturing that ran trade surpluses in 2014 were electricity measuring/testing instruments ($1.5 billion) and software and other prerecorded cds/tapes/records ($.5 billion).

 

Now enter the concept of cyber security which has cost tens of millions of dollars over the last twenty years in congressional budget efforts to understand and come to grips with National Security as countries around the world churn out parts not regulated, nor carefully monitored for their “footprints” in our country’s efforts to stem cyber attacks. Gee, imagine that…we worry about security all the while that we allow our technology and our parts (which could contain any number of sneaky little ways to spy on our classified information) to be made outside our country.  So kiss tax dollars goodbye because they can not understand the truth.

Congress, the State Department and the past administrations have been allowing the sale of companies and manufacturers of components to at first leak then blatantly flood out of our country even as they whine about CyberSecurity. Our citizens have lost good jobs and the market has been opened to high risks all because these idjits can not see the trees falling in the forest. In addition by ruining the job market here in the US, they have created the whole ball of wax when considering the security, emotional, and economic downturn in the lives of our own people.

Yet they still are spending huge amounts of money on “think tank actions” to “study” the problem of cyber security.   They continue to wonder why or how countries (who by the way are manufacturing those components we so eagerly buy) are attacking and hacking into our systems. They wonder why our social services costs are rising so dramatically (above and beyond the use of illegal immigrant labor).

NEXTGOV published an article by Joseph Marks on June 14,  2017 called “IN AN ERA OF RUSSIAN HACKS, THE US IS STILL INSTALLING RUSSIAN SOFTWARE ON GOVERNMENT SYSTEMS.”

This is the basic paradox: On one hand, top intelligence officials at the FBI, CIA and the National Security Agency tell members of Congress that Kaspersky Lab can’t be trusted, that they wouldn’t put its products on their personal computers, let alone the nation’s. On the other hand, federal agencies still use the Moscow-headquartered anti-virus software. During the past decade, it’s plugged into systems at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Treasury Department, the National Institutes of Health and U.S. embassies, among other locations, contracting data shows.

Kaspersky anti-virus also frequently protects state, local and tribal government computers, former officials told Nextgov.

It may even be on some non-national security systems at the Homeland Security Department, according to testimony from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, though it’s generally barred from intelligence and national security systems throughout government, according to official testimony.

This disparity between official concern about the Kaspersky company and the prevalence of the firm’s anti-virus on government systems highlights two fundamental facts.

  • First, anti-virus is both immensely useful and extremely powerful. If used for nefarious purposes, it’s capable of pilfering nearly any file from a computer system or loading malware onto that same system. It can do all of this undetected unless a system administrator is monitoring it extremely closely and perhaps not even then.
  • Second, despite widespread alarm over government data breaches at the White House, the State Department, the Pentagon and the Office of Personnel Management, the government is a long way from being able to impose uniform security standards on all of its computers.

Government officials are deeply concerned about the possibility of nefarious activity by the Russian-based company, which several smaller agencies have purchased through third parties and bundlers as part of larger computer security packages, three former Obama administration cybersecurity officials confirmed to Nextgov.

Such concerns have been aired numerous times before, most recently by Buzzfeed in May.

There’s no public evidence of collusion between Kaspersky and the Russian government, and U.S. officials have never publicly alleged such interference, though it’s common for intelligence agencies to keep such evidence under wraps to avoid revealing intelligence sources and methods.

The company flatly denied any collusion in a May statement, saying “Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage efforts.” The company also firmly denied sharing any customer data with Russian authorities.

 

The point really to be made is NOT that there is collusion. They have one of the premier products. The most important point I have been trying to make is that the US cannot control, expect, or in any way guarantee products, components, delivery or service of strategically important nature such as being sold in the computer and in the electronic fields so long as they spit in one hand and grab for the ring with the other. (including drones, planes, tanks, petroleum, energy production, and a multitude of other items).

They have ACTIVELY ALLOWED the dissemination of technology, manufacturing, and intelligent research with the sales of in-country industries into the world without maintaining a control group which can not be hacked, smacked, chopped, or bleached by outside sources. Like cancer, they allowed unchecked surgery which has spread the cancer far and wide and not saved the organ attacked nor the patient. For instance, the CIA created the Dark Web but shortly after it became unmanageable.

At some point given the current level of angst in the world, the US will be far too weakened without actual components built within its border or highly trained internal support and research to possibly survive any attack. Countries like China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia are focused like lasers on overtaking this market and reducing the US footprint to nothing more than a faded track. They have been buying up our companies, transferring technology, then focusing on improving even as they cut off that knowledge from our own people.

Either we focus on producing, research and development here not just of computer components but every industrial market in the US again or we will be screwed like an inexperienced handyman with a broken screwdriver and a rusty screw.

–Uriel–

About Uriel

Retired educator and constitutionalist
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One Response to Cyber Warfare – The Strange Case Of Congressional and Economic Blindness

  1. Hardnox says:

    Good post Uriel. Excellent commentary.

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