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Welcome to the Cyber Age

Walter Russell Mead

So, about those electronic voting machines… The FT:

The FBI is investigating the suspected hacking of the election computer systems in at least two US states by a foreign agent and has warned other states to watch out for potential intrusions.

Officials in Arizona and Illinois confirmed that their systems had been the subject of cyber attacks in July, with information about as many as 200,000 voters hacked in Illinois.

With the most highly guarded secrets of governments spilling out in this age of hacking and leaking, and with cyber saboteurs causing Iranian centrifuges to crash, voting machines look like a soft target. A foreign government trying to hack the election wouldn’t necessarily be trying to throw it to one candidate or the other; it would be enough to throw a cloud of illegitimacy and uncertainty over the result. There are governments out there who don’t hate liberals and love conservatives or vice versa so much as they hate the United States and want to weaken, divide and confuse us.

The rise of the cyber world has been so fast that our ideas and our institutions are still a long way from catching up. Your smart phone and your laptop computer these days open out into international space: foreign governments, criminal syndicates and goodness only knows what corporate and governmental snoops can access your data and reach out to change your world.

When we talk about border security these days, it’s not just about the Rio Grande or our harbors and airports. The greater the preponderance of American power in meatspace, the more incentive our rivals and opponents have to put their resources into cyberwar. It would be nice to hear more from candidates for office about their plans to defend the country from these growing threats.

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