US cybersecurity fails

The US government sent a representative to China to negotiate about cybersecurity who did not even know what an ISP was, according to a leading cyberwarfare expert.

Former head of US homeland security Janet Napolitano once told Peter Singer: “Don’t laugh, but I just don’t use email at all.”

According to the Guardian, Singer, director of the Centre for 21st Century Security & Intelligence said that it was not a fear of privacy or security – it’s because she just didn’t think it was useful.

Speaking at the SXSW festival, Singer, that a supreme court justice also told him that he hasn’t got round to email yet – and this is someone who will get to vote on everything from net neutrality to the NSA negotiations.”

Another US official about to negotiate cybersecurity with China asked him to explain what “ISP” meant. “That’s like going to negotiate with the Soviets and not knowing what ‘ICBM’ means. And I’ve had similar experiences with officials from the UK, China and Abu Dhabi”, Singer said.

At the G20 conference diplomats were spearfished by an email with a link to nude photos of former French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and many clicked – downloading spyware onto their computers.

He added that many cybersecurity threats and solutions are misrepresented or overblown. Power lines are taken down far more often by squirrels and yet so far no squirrel has been taken out by a drone, or put on a no fly list.

“The government response is often too reactionary – akin to the treatment of pirates and privateers in the age of sail – whereas investment in a public cyberhealth campaign would be far more effective,” Singer said.