[ISN] Why Cyber War Is Dangerous for Democracies

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/06/hackers-cyber-china-russia/396812/ By MOISÉS NAÍM The Atlantic June 25, 2015 This month, two years after his massive leak of NSA documents detailing U.S. surveillance programs, Edward Snowden published an op-ed in The New York Times celebrating his accomplishments. The “power of an informed public,” he wrote, had forced the U.S. government to scrap its bulk collection of phone records. Moreover, he noted, “Since 2013, institutions across Europe have ruled similar laws and operations illegal and imposed new restrictions on future activities.” He concluded by asserting that “We are witnessing the emergence of a post-terror generation, one that rejects a worldview defined by a singular tragedy. For the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, we see the outline of a politics that turns away from reaction and fear in favor of resilience and reason.” Maybe so. I am glad that my privacy is now more protected from meddling by U.S. and European democracies. But frankly, I am far more concerned about the cyber threats to my privacy posed by Russia, China, and other authoritarian regimes than the surveillance threats from Washington. You should be too. Around the time that Snowden published his article, hackers broke into the computer systems of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and stole information on at least 4 million (and perhaps far more) federal employees. The files stolen include personal and professional data that government employees are required to give the agency in order to get security clearances. The main suspect in this and similar attacks is China, though what affiliation, if any, the hackers had with the Chinese government remains unclear. According to the Washington Post, “China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary.” […]