News item: Another nine financial institutions were hacked by the same group at the same time.
News item: Home Depot says 56 million personal accounts were hacked, putting that number of credit cards at risk.
News item: Target loses 40 million credit card account data to hackers.
Excuse me, but are we officially scared yet? Do we realize how unable to stop these people all of our important institutions are? Do we suspect that government computers are attacked and hacked multiple times a day? Do we fully comprehend that our power grids are all run by very hackable computers and are a mouse click away from being shut down?
Our lifestyle, financial, governmental, and environmental well-being are under constant attack and we seem to be doing a rather poor job of stopping it. To "fix" the problem 4 months after it is first found is the best we can muster? To issue "patches" after the fact isn't good enough. To apologize and give a year's worth of free credit monitoring is like giving us a smoke alarm after the house burned down.
We can send a spaceship to Mars, we can find the money to make permanent war on an endless supply of bad guys, we can make 90" TV screens, we can invent smartphones that can monitor our home security from 5,000 miles away......but we can't protect ourselves from people bent on messing with our lives.
And, I don't know why we aren't outraged.
The typical response seems to be a shrug of the shoulder and an acceptance that this is the new normal. We feel good about "free" credit monitoring that financial or big box stores give us. Of course, all that does is let us know quickly when someone has stolen our identity and hijacked our financial life.
We continue to do business with companies that say "We're sorry" but know the next cyber attack is just over the hill. The CEO's of these companies continue to take home multi-million dollar salaries even as they put tens of millions of us in a bind.
I don't have an answer, just a sense of helplessness, which is one of the goals of a terrorist. Stealing my identity, hacking into my life, and causing me endless grief is every bit as much a terrorist attack as some crazy with a bomb. The cyber attack will not be fatal (unless our electricity, food, and water supply are cut off). But, it does significant damage just the same.
Stop using credit cards? That could be a partial solution, but at a very high cost of inconvenience and hassle. Stop shopping at compromised stores? That doesn't leave many. Stockpile water and food for when the hackers mess with our energy supplies? Maybe. Buy dozens of solar panels so I don't need the local electric utility? Not practical but maybe a necessity.
Or, demand that the money and brain power of this country be turned on an enemy much more likely to harm our day-to-day way of life than a small band of fanatics intent on forming their own country or way of life on the other side of the world. We are under daily attack, right now, on our own soil from computer hackers and cyber criminals. This is not hypothetical - it is going on as you read this post.
ROI, or return on investment, is a basic economic principle. I am willing to bet the immediate ROI on upping our hacker defenses will pay much greater dividends over the near term than shooting off a $1 million dollar missile several times a day so we can blow up a truck or a building somewhere in the Mideast.
If the responsible people at these companies and in government lost their jobs when 40, 50, 60, 70 million customers lost their privacy then maybe things would be different. At the moment there seems to be no consequence for massive failure.
Hackers have declared war on us, and our response is to try and close that proverbial barn door after all the horses have run away.
That shouldn't be good enough.
OK, my rant is over.