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The Politics of Cybersecurity in the USA

The Politics of Cybersecurity in the USA, Cybersecurity is the theater of war of the 21st century, it’s vital to keep track of the politics of cybersecurity

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The Politics of Cybersecurity in the USA

Cybersecurity is the theater of war of the 21st century. While the 20th century’s battles were fought on the oceans, in the air, or on the ground, today’s conflicts take place in the digital realm – a realm that the U.S. state is slowly equipping itself to dominate.

This is creating a struggle between privacy rights and free trade, and the power of government to ensure public safety. And it’s playing out in front of our eyes as the Trump administration seeks to crack down on malware created by foreign “adversaries.”

Because of this, it’s vital to keep track of the politics of cybersecurity. This article looks at the roots of the current situation, assesses recent developments, and tries to tease out some takeaways to put Trump’s policies into context. And to truly understand that context, we need to step back in time – to a time when Trump was a flashy property developer, and malware had barely been conceived.

1. Expanding War-Fighting Capabilities to the Digital Battlefront

During the 1990s and 2000s, U.S. war-fighting capabilities gradually started to embrace a new set of priorities. Seeing that forces based around tanks, fighter jets, and cruise missiles were rapidly becoming less and less relevant, planners started to focus on what became known as “cyber-warfare” – taking the fight into the realm of megabits and malware, instead of missiles.

Under the Bush administration, Strategic Defence Reviews stressed the need for “Full Spectrum Dominance,” including the ability to attack targets via digital weapons. And as the War on Terror kicked into gear, the Patriot Act armed intelligence agencies with a new set of powers to track, attack, and detain suspected enemies of the state.

This continued under the Obama administration, which deepened U.S. cyber-warfare capabilities, extending already-existing NSA surveillance to encompass virtually every byte sent across networks to and within the USA. New weapons emerged as well, such as Stuxnet – a malware agent that ripped through Iranian servers associated with nuclear research in the 2010s.

More recently, stories have emerged about the U.S. attempts to place malware in strategic locations within the Russian power grid – potentially providing Washington with a “nuclear button” to take down the nation’s electricity networks.

As usually happens in global affairs, U.S. attacks have sparked “blowback,” as adversaries seek to leverage their cyber-warfare expertise. However, while the state has learned more about how to fight wars in the digital realm, it has failed to boost its awareness about the threats posed by malicious online warriors. Cyber-warfare has trumped “cybersecurity,” leading to considerable vulnerabilities in the U.S. information infrastructure.

2. How Online Threats to State and Corporate Assets Has Grown

These weaknesses were exposed in vivid detail in 2016 and 2017 when the Lazarus and WannaCry malware attacks hit major US-based corporations. Both were immediately connected to North Korean hacking groups, raising strong suspicions that the reclusive east-Asian state had developed ways to attack American targets that the Pentagon and NSA couldn’t neutralize.

These malware attacks were complemented by the exposure of Electric Fish in 2019 – which has been linked to vast financial crimes across the world (and also traces its origins back to Pyongyang).

North Korea is the only state exposing U.S. cybersecurity weaknesses. Chinese groups like APT10 have been accused of targeting American utilities, potentially leading to crippling blackouts. And, in a development that shows how negligent U.S. authorities have been, there’s a good chance that Chinese digital attackers have been using code created by the NSA.

At the same time, cyber-attacks by non-state actors have become endemic. The sums are so huge that we can’t say for sure exactly how much these attacks cost American companies every year. According to Accenture, the average cost of individual cyber-attacks amounts to around $13 million, and the frequency of security breaches increased by 67% from 2014-2019.

Given that state of affairs, the fact that the U.S. government is taking action to boost its cybersecurity powers is unsurprising. However, coming after the shocking extent of the NSA surveillance scandals, and with distrust of the Trump administration rising, is this expansion a welcome development, and what does it mean for everyday internet users?

3. How the Trump Administration is Taking Action on Cybersecurity

On May 15, 2019, the White House released a highly significant Executive Order, entitled “Executive Orders on Secure the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain.” Forget about the clunky official title. The substance of this Order has some clear implications for the way we use the internet, and the security measures we need to adopt.

Trump’s Order responded directly to the kind of threats documented earlier, including the dangers posed to information storage infrastructure by ” economic and industrial espionage.”

Importantly, the Order placed blame for this situation on the growing use of foreign-developed technology (with the role of Chinese companies like Huawei firmly in the background). While acknowledging that free trade and technological exchange has significant benefits, the Order made one key demand, which put those ideals into question.

Trump’s Order has created a new prohibition on importing technology produced by companies in which foreign powers have a controlling interest, providing that the Secretary of State for Commerce has deemed that the technology would pose a severe security threat to the U.S. assets (private and public).

This essentially allows government officials to determine which foreign suppliers are approved, and which companies are unacceptable. And it enables the state to penalize companies or individuals who engage with those suppliers.
The idea is to prevent the importation of technologies that are capable of disseminating malware or spying on American citizens. But will it work? In that context, it’s worth remembering that this E.O. comes after a related Order in 2017, which sought to strengthen U.S. corporate and Federal defenses against cyber-attacks. That failed to have the desired effect, resulting in the need for more stringent measures.

4. Is the U.S. Government Tightening Its Grip on Cybersecurity?

Trump’s latest Executive Order could well raise alarms among US IT professionals. For instance, many companies work with Chinese firms like Huawei, or source products from Chinese manufacturers, and will need to ensure regulatory compliance for any future imports.

There are also signs that individuals have cause to be concerned as well. The Executive Order encompasses tech imports as well as “software and other products or services originally intended to fulfill the role of information or data processing, storage, retrieval, or communication by electronic means.”

This means that many of those downloading software developed abroad will need to take into account the status of the vendor. Seeing as almost all software these days incorporates “data processing,” the scope of the Order is potentially enormous.

So, on the surface, it seems as if the state is launching a new phase in its cybersecurity efforts, but what are the takeaways for everyday web users?

5. Understanding the Implications of Cybersecurity Politics

Understanding the Implications of Cybersecurity Politics

Firstly, there’s no need for businesses or individuals to panic. While the Order represents an expansion in the power of the government to sanction foreign companies and individuals, it does not mandate punishments for U.S. citizens.

Said that the future could hold some nasty surprises if the Order is pursued to its logical conclusion. For instance, companies may find it harder to recruit trained professionals from countries deemed “adversaries” of the USA.

Companies that have sourced software or hardware solutions from foreign-owned suppliers could find that their connections to suppliers are disrupted, leading to serious technical challenges.

There may also be challenges for individual software users. For example, many of the best VPNs are based outside the USA. The Executive Order could be used as a tool to suppress these privacy-enhancing services, especially if Congressional oversight is not sufficient.

So, what’s the key takeaway from our brief look at U.S. cybersecurity politics? While panic and alarm are counter-productive, the expanding state’s role in determining what technologies are acceptable is something to watch. When coupled with the dangers posed by official surveillance, it suggests that we should reinforce efforts to balance security and freedom in the digital age.

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Bitcoin

Elevating Your Bitcoin Understanding: A Guide for the Avid Learner

Want to learn about crypto investing from experts? This website, quantum-primeprofit.com can help you achieve excellence by connecting you with investment professionals. Learn more!

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Elevating Your Bitcoin Understanding A Guide for the Avid Learner

In the digital age, Bitcoin has emerged as a groundbreaking force, poised to transform conventional finance and payment methods through its decentralized digital currency. For those keen on grasping the intricacies of this financial revolution, this guide offers an all-encompassing view of Bitcoin, spanning from its inception to its contemporary influence. Want to learn about crypto investing from experts? This website, quantum-primeprofit.com can help you achieve excellence by connecting you with investment professionals. Learn more!

1. The Genesis of Bitcoin

Bitcoin’s journey begins with an enigmatic figure known as Satoshi Nakamoto. In 2008, Nakamoto published a whitepaper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” This groundbreaking paper laid the foundation for what would become Bitcoin. To this day, Nakamoto’s true identity remains unknown, adding an element of intrigue to the Bitcoin story.

The whitepaper proposed a novel idea: a digital currency that operates on a decentralized ledger called a blockchain. This innovation was designed to eliminate the need for intermediaries like banks in financial transactions, making peer-to-peer transactions possible.

2. How Bitcoin Works

Blockchain Technology: The Backbone of Bitcoin

At the core of Bitcoin is blockchain technology. A blockchain is a distributed ledger that records all Bitcoin transactions across a network of computers. This ledger is immutable and transparent, making it virtually impossible to alter or manipulate transaction history.

Explaining the Concept of a Blockchain

A blockchain consists of blocks, each containing a group of transactions. These blocks are linked together in chronological order, forming a chain. Each block is cryptographically secured, ensuring the integrity of the entire ledger.

Mining and Consensus Mechanisms

Bitcoin transactions are validated through a process called mining. Miners use computational power to solve complex mathematical puzzles, adding new blocks to the blockchain. The first miner to solve the puzzle broadcasts the block to the network, and if a consensus is reached, the block is added to the chain.

3. Transactions and Wallets

To interact with the Bitcoin network, users need a wallet. A wallet contains cryptographic keys, including a public address for receiving Bitcoin and a private key for authorizing transactions. Security is paramount when it comes to Bitcoin wallets.

Cryptographic Keys and Addresses

Public keys serve as addresses that users share to receive Bitcoin. Private keys are secret codes that must be kept secure to access and authorize transactions.

Security Measures for Protecting Your Bitcoin

Users must employ robust security practices, including hardware wallets, multi-factor authentication, and offline storage, to safeguard their Bitcoin holdings.

4. Bitcoin’s Role in the Financial Ecosystem

Store of Value vs. Digital Cash

Bitcoin serves two primary functions: as a store of value and as digital cash. As a store of value, Bitcoin is often compared to gold, seen as a hedge against inflation and economic instability. Its finite supply (capped at 21 million coins) contributes to this perception.

Bitcoin as an Investment Asset

Bitcoin has gained widespread recognition as an investment asset. Its price volatility has attracted investors seeking high returns. Institutions and individuals alike have allocated a portion of their portfolios to Bitcoin, viewing it as a hedge against traditional financial markets.

Regulatory Challenges and Legal Considerations

As Bitcoin’s popularity has grown, governments and regulators worldwide have grappled with how to classify and regulate it. The regulatory landscape varies from country to country, making it crucial for Bitcoin enthusiasts to stay informed about their local laws and compliance requirements.

Bitcoin has emerged as a groundbreaking force

5. The Bitcoin Mining Process

The Mining Ecosystem

Mining is the process by which new Bitcoins are created and transactions are confirmed. Miners play a vital role in maintaining the integrity of the blockchain.

Miners, Nodes, and Mining Pools

Miners are nodes in the Bitcoin network that compete to solve cryptographic puzzles. Mining pools are groups of miners who combine their computational power to increase their chances of solving a puzzle and earning rewards.

Energy Consumption and Environmental Concerns

Bitcoin mining’s energy consumption has raised environmental concerns. The energy-intensive process of mining has led to debates about the sustainability of Bitcoin and efforts to develop more energy-efficient consensus mechanisms.

Bitcoin Halving Events and Their Impact

Approximately every four years, Bitcoin experiences a “halving” event, reducing the number of new Bitcoins created per block by half. This scarcity mechanism has historical precedents for driving up Bitcoin’s price and impacting the mining ecosystem.

6. Bitcoin’s Impact on Society

Financial Inclusion and Banking the Unbanked

Bitcoin has the potential to provide financial services to those without access to traditional banking. By simply having an internet connection, individuals can become part of the global financial network, sending and receiving Bitcoin without intermediaries.

Remittances and Cross-Border Transactions

Bitcoin’s borderless nature makes it an attractive option for remittances and cross-border transactions. It offers a faster and more cost-effective alternative to traditional money transfer services.

Bitcoin and the Future of Traditional Banking

The rise of Bitcoin has prompted traditional financial institutions to explore blockchain technology and digital currencies. Central banks are also researching and developing their digital currencies, known as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), in response to the changing financial landscape.

7. Challenges and Future Trends

Scalability Issues and Lightning Network

Bitcoin faces challenges related to scalability, as it currently struggles to handle a high volume of transactions quickly and cost-effectively. The Lightning Network is an off-chain solution designed to address this issue, allowing for faster and cheaper transactions.

Competing Cryptocurrencies

While Bitcoin remains the dominant cryptocurrency, it faces competition from other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, which offers smart contract capabilities and decentralized applications. These platforms are exploring innovative use cases beyond digital cash.

Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and Their Implications

Central banks are actively researching and piloting CBDCs, which could potentially reshape the global financial system. The impact of CBDCs on Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem remains a topic of debate and interest.

Conclusion

Bitcoin’s journey from an anonymous whitepaper to a global financial phenomenon has been nothing short of remarkable. Its potential to disrupt traditional finance, drive financial inclusion, and serve as an investment asset continues to captivate the world. As Bitcoin and blockchain technology evolve, avid learners should stay informed, engage with the community, and exercise responsible investment practices. The future of cryptocurrencies and their role in the global financial landscape remains an exciting and dynamic field to watch.

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