The Approaching Cyber Tyranny

By Max Musson:

GCHQ BuildingAnyone who has worked in a managerial capacity for a major bank will be familiar with the concept of ‘moral risk’ and the basis of this concept is the premise that if someone is routinely given the opportunity to perform a dishonest or immoral act that is to their own advantage without anyone else finding out, then sooner or later they will take advantage of that opportunity.

While bank employees routinely have the opportunity to embezzle the funds of a bank’s customers, banks therefore employ, sometimes simple and laborious but often complex administrative systems designed to ensure that should such embezzlement take place, the employees concerned will eventually be discovered. It is the certain knowledge that they will eventually be caught that prevents bank employees from routinely embezzling their customers’ money.

Bearing in mind the principle of ‘moral risk’, it is all the more disconcerting therefore when one considers the implications of CIA whistle blower Edward Snowden’s most recent revelations about breaches in Internet security created by the British and American secret services.

According to top-secret documents revealed by the former intelligence contractor, extracts from which have been published simultaneously by the Guardian newspaper, New York Times and the investigative news website, ProPublica, US and British intelligence agencies have successfully cracked much of the online encryption relied upon by hundreds of millions of people to protect the privacy of their personal data, online transactions and emails. These files show that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its UK counterpart GCHQ have extensively compromised the guarantees that internet companies have given consumers to reassure them that their communications, online banking and medical records would be indecipherable to criminals or governments.

The widespread use of encryption for online communications and transactions has been viewed by the intelligence agencies as one of the biggest constraints upon their ability to freely monitor internet traffic and therefore a range of measures have been employed to circumvent such encryption.

NSA BuildingThese methods include: covert measures to ensure NSA control over setting of international encryption standards; the use of powerful supercomputers to decipher encryption algorithms; and the most closely guarded secret of all, direct collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers.

In this latter respect, the security agencies have in collaboration with technology companies and internet service providers, inserted secret vulnerabilities, known as ‘backdoors’ or ‘trapdoors’, into commercial encryption software.

The documents released by Edward Snowden indicate that the security of Microsoft systems has been compromised together with Hotmail, Google, Yahoo and Facebook and a situation now exists in which the security services have access to sensitive and confidential information transmitted on the internet, including most encrypted information relating to individuals’ medical records and online banking.

Irrespective of whether or not one believes it is a good idea for the security services to have access to private and confidential information in their battle against ‘terrorism’, the current situation raises two very serious issues:

Firstly, the principle of ‘moral risk’ has been ignored and while the 850,000 cyber snoopers employed by the NSA in the United States, and the additional thousands employed by GCHQ here in the UK may have signed the ‘official secrets act’ or its US equivalent and can possibly be trusted not to reveal information gleaned that impacts upon national security, the need for secrecy and stealth with regard to their activities means that it would be almost impossible to enforce the kind of systems that banks use to deter and prevent embezzlement and fraud by their employees.

Potentially therefore, hundreds of thousands of people employed by the security services will have knowledge of the ‘back-doors’ that enable them to circumvent the encryption of online banking accounts and will have the ability to abuse this position of trust in circumstances in which no-one would ever find out. No wonder cyber crime is on the increase!

How many ‘Edward Snowdens’ have there been who have kept their mouths shut about what they know and who have instead used their insider knowledge of encryption weaknesses to siphon money out of innocent people’s bank accounts?

We will probably never know.

Password 1Secondly, where ‘back-doors’ exist in software, with respect to pass-worded software accounts and confidential encrypted accounts, we can be certain that organised crime syndicates will be employing large numbers of criminal ‘wannabe’ ‘Edward Snowdens’ to search for the ‘back-doors’ that exist, and it does not take a genius to imagine the havoc that could be caused if organised criminal gangs gained online access to the bank accounts of individuals, corporations and governments and have gained access to the central databases of government agencies.

Lastly, for those of us who do not trust government agencies to always exercise the powers they have in the public interest, the knowledge that the security services have gained access, not just to a mass of personal information that is stored and transmitted online, but also to our bank accounts and all of our online accounts, means that political dissent cannot be conducted by lawful opposition groups and political parties with any degree of confidentiality, unless the groups and political parties concerned operate as if they are illegal organizations and employ the same kind of deceptions, money-laundering and information laundering techniques that organised crime syndicates employ.

Under the Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act 2000 here in the UK it is illegal for a political party to operate in the covert way suggested above and therefore any truly revolutionary political party will always operate at a decisive disadvantage relative to the establishment parties in power, because as a result of the reporting requirements of this Act and the ability of the security services to conduct intrusive surveillance of the kind we are discussing here, the establishment parties will always know what resources are available to any genuine opposition parties, what their plans are, who their personnel are, and full details of any potentially embarrassing information which could be used to discredit those parties and/or their leading members.

The traditional political party route to power is therefore no longer an option for any truly reforming opposition group.

In fact, we have reached a situation in which the draconian powers employed by governmental agencies are so pervasive, intrusive, oppressive and intimidatory, that any right-minded citizen would regard them as tyrannical and should feel inclined to oppose them as a matter of principle.

We are therefore just one step away from a situation in which to dissent from government policy is in itself regarded by governmental agencies as evidence of criminality – and this is very dangerous.

Once governmental agencies start to regard political dissent as tantamount to criminality, and they have as routine the opportunity to abuse their internet access to public and private records and to private bank accounts etc., without anyone finding out, then the principle of ‘moral risk’ tells us that they will sooner or later begin taking advantage of these opportunities to sabotage lawful political dissent and lawful political opposition and we will find ourselves living under a tyrannical, totalitarian regime.

Furthermore, imagine just for a moment a situation in which a reforming political party that is opposed to the current regime’s policies of multiracialism, and globalism etc., achieves a position in which it starts to enjoy the majority support of the British public with a general election approaching.

What would the current government do?

More to the point, what would they not be prepared to do, out of a sense of fair play and propriety, in the absence of any technical constraints?

The banking experience is that if governments can through our security services gain access to and high-jack the online accounts of dissident groups, in circumstances where no-one will ever find out, there is nothing they would shy away from doing by way of sabotage, if it would be to their political advantage.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, as they say!

By Max Musson © 2013

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12 thoughts on “The Approaching Cyber Tyranny

  1. The whole secrecy culture breeds abuse & corruption in many fields.
    We are expected to be more & more open but our Lords & masters become more secretive.
    I laugh when some sap or stooge says but I have nothing to fear in them seeing my communications etc.
    But what happens when it’s your government who is up to something wrong & doesn’t want to be challenged on it?
    As it happens everything vaguely controversial I say is in the public domain, which means they wouldn’t find anything else in my emails or telephone calls.

  2. When I have suffered skimming or cloning of cards, it’s virtually impossible to get any details of what happened.
    A case that happened to my Mother on a dormant account must have been an inside job.
    Chip & pin was supposed to be fool proof & lasted about 5 minutes as it turns out China can mass produce compromised items straight from the factory.
    To be honest I think the system is set up to fail like many things, so as to erode the structures of this country & eventually destroy it.
    Why can’t we have personalised thumbprint scanners or similar?

  3. The so called porn opt in is a first step to controlling access to anything outside the official norm or orthodoxy.
    I understand a lot of porn access was attempted in the Houses of Parliament recently.
    Maybe they need an opt in?
    A precedent is already in place in certain countries where any discussions on the Holocaust can get you into trouble, if you don’t accept the official version of events.

  4. A valuable post Max.

    As someone of more advanced years, I have experience of (a) knowing how administrative systems worked before computers became widespread and (b) a gradual realization of just how weak security systems are in cyberspace.

    At the risk of sounding like a cave-dweller, I have been thinking that our communications and security systems need to be a combination of the old paper methods and the new digital systems.

    When one is faced with the prospect of hundreds and thousands of technical experts labouring to break one’s computer codes or just listening in, a partial reversion to paper systems (card indexes, paper files, steel safes etc.), though not perfect, seem to recommend itself.

    Conceptually, this would mean that the most secure information would be stored and exchanged between highly trusted individuals in a paper form, whilst the mass of information exchange would continue in its current form (such as this forum).

    Hardly a great contribution to the debate, but worthy of consideration I think.

    1. Did you hear that in Russia, I think it was the FSB who have gone back to typewriters in a bid to limit leaks of sensitive information.
      One question with regard to Bradley Manning is how was it he could get so much info in one go, who allowed him to get access & why?
      This has never been answered.

  5. Exactly. Now imagine if Manning had gone to the “paper” records department and signed out a thousand files, and then had the photocopier running hot to copy them all or tried to smuggle them out in a truck! Would have attracted some attention no doubt.

  6. Varg Vikernes and his wife had their bank and paypal accounts closed down immediately after being accused of crimes they did not commit. In fact, their ‘crimes’ were purely ideological; they were/are peaceful dissenters. This is an example of the State and banking institutions working in tandem to damage the livelihood of ideological opponents. There is indeed NOTHING that the corrupt governments of the Western World will not do to maintain and increase their control over all once-free peoples.

    1. Imagine how controlled we could be if cash is abolished, they could control every purchase you make.
      The only alternatives would be theft or barter.

  7. Agreed, and it is obvious that cash is being targeted for elimination in the near future. There appears to be little, if any, organised opposition to or awareness of the likely disappearance of cash.

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