Hacking, Business, and Politics

I’ve recently had the great fortune to be called in as an industry expert to comment on current news at the Fox Business “Money with Melissa Francis”. I’ll be the first one to tell you that every (read: EVERY) mass media outlet has an agenda. From Fox, through CBS, NBC, CNN to Al-Jazeera. They have their agendas that works with their audiences, which works well with the “you get what you pay for” approach for most people (for a nice overview of media bias read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_bias_in_the_United_States).

As it came about, my latest commentary on the show was on the meeting held between President Obama and a few tech company CEOs in light of the NSA surveillance mandate. As always – I’m keeping a fair separation between my business and hacking views and my personal political ones, and I expressed my take on the matter (TL;DR: It’s a PR charade designed to make everyone look a bit better).

Nevertheless, and probably because of the wider audience this kind of broadcast reaches, I received some comments (surprisingly from both sides) that were of political nature.

Granted, this is Fox, and my fellow panelists on the show are a couple of the more verbal and respected figures on the network, so very quickly the discussion became highly political. You could notice that at these points I was less than conversational ;-).

I do think that there needs to be a “balancing” voice whenever topics of this nature are brought up to a public discussion, and if you ask me the discussion shouldn’t be political as in “this guy is bad, and the other guy is good”, but more of the “this is the situation, here’s how it’s good/bad for us (the people), what can we do to change it?”. At the end of the day, even when pushing a political/economical agenda of any form, the discussion should end with an idea or a call for action. I see little merit in simple criticism (unless we are talking about entertainment media – where sarcasm is my first friend, and the likes of Jon Stewart, Louis CK, are my heroes). When faced with an opportunity to provide information, commentary and call for action I’d rather be able to educate and encourage discussion than opt for the easy way out of playing out the right “tune” for my audience.

Specifically in this case – surveillance is going to happen, I mean, we are talking about the intelligence agency here. And guess what? whatever mandate they get, they are going to do their best to be able to fulfill their main task (gather actionable intelligence) which includes things like working with other agencies outside the US to get information on assets that they may not be privy to (us citizens that are not specifically suspects). It’s (almost like) hacking the legal system to get what you need. I know – been there, done that.

Also – while we’ve been caught with our hands in the cookie jar, almost any other nation either has, or is developing, or buying the same kind of capacity to gather intelligence at this scope. How about discussing this? How about discussing the outsourcing of intelligence gathering of the more borderline kind that companies such as Gamma Group, NSO Group, HackingTeam, and their likes?

Last but not least – if you are a security practitioner, and you haven’t had a chance to take a look at the “I am the cavalry” initiative, you probably owe it to yourself to check it out: http://www.iamthecavalry.org/

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