Political Column: Can The Government Be Hacked?

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Daniel Caccavale

On Friday, March 2, NASA admitted that its computer system was fully hacked in 2011, according to an article published on March 2 by BBC News entitled “Hackers had ‘full functional control’ of NASA computers.”  One would think that NASA, one of the most technologically advanced agencies in America, would be able to protect its computer systems. One may also think that with the available software protection technology today, all government agencies would be able to keep systems secure.

This is not always the case, as was proven in June 2011 when hackers took down the CIA website for several hours.  The group LulzSec, a growing group of internet hackers, took credit for the break in, according to a June 15, 2011, Washington Post article by Ellen Nakashima, entitled “CIA website hacked; group LulzSec takes credit.” Cnet.com and computerworld.com published articles in regards to the attacks the day after on June 15. These are not the first times major government websites have been hacked, but each time it happens it gets scarier because the hackers seem to become more daring by hacking into an even more vital computer system. What could these hackers really do?

We live in a computerized world. Just about every file is kept on a computer. Computers are space savers and an easy way to keep track of all of your information, and for the government to keep track of theirs. But what happens if a group of hackers manages to get these files? What happens if they gain access to a computer that has a satellite watching our troops overseas? The answer is catastrophe. Every single file our country holds precious, our entire national security could potentially be stolen and sold to other countries or used for their own benefit. Cyber security is rapidly becoming a hot topic in Washington and finding a way to insure it is a costly problem and the government is beginning to take precautions.

Of course hacking is already illegal, and the penalties for treason and the selling of government information would land someone severe penalties. On the White House webpage, cyber security is not a hard topic to come across. In fact, President Obama has several ideas listed on the website that outline what he is doing in terms of cyber security. In his attempt to lower the threat of a cyber attack, he is trying to create positions in which someone can over watch the security systems and keep out hackers. He is trying to have researchers create new technologies that will be able to keep out hackers. Additionally, he is pushing for better security systems and spy finding software. He is also trying to get the word out about the threat that these hackers pose to the nation, because if we are all aware of it, perhaps it will help lower the threat levels. Several pieces of legislation have already passed, such as The Comprehensive National Cyber Security Initiative, and more are likely to come.

For now we are not fully protected. However, we are not completely at risk either. We are still one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world and the security systems in place keep the country as safe as possible. As the technology develops, we will only become safer. But we have to hope we develop the technology to protect ourselves before hackers find the technology to break into our systems completely.

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