It is time to call Julian Assange and his hacker cohorts what they are: cyber terrorists. Assange used his website, Wikileaks, to post thousands of stolen classified documents online for the world to see.
Assange may not be a member of al Qaeda, but his goals are similar to those of Osama bin Laden. Assange is anti-American and anti-business. He wants to hurt the United States, specifically our efforts in the War on Terror, and anyone who gets in his way.
Why do people like Assange focus on the US and not the many other nations of the world that would be more credible targets for someone concerned about human rights? In part, they have succumbed to leftist rhetoric about “illegal wars” as well as disproportionate coverage of problems like Abu Graibh. In reality, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are justified and legal. The majority of US and Coalition troops behave honorably. Those did not have faced justice. On the contrary, our enemy’s central tactic is killing and maiming innocent people.
Second, Assange and those like him realize that if they went after the real human rights abusers in the world, countries like China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran, they might become targets themselves. Like Osama bin Laden before 9/11, they view the US as a “paper tiger.” They can make a name for themselves by attacking us without fear of reprisal. On the other hand, people who criticize true dictatorial governments tend to end up dead, often in horrible ways.
After Assange was arrested on rape charges this week, his cohorts launched a wave of cyber attacks on companies and governments. Many of the companies attacked, such as MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Amazon, have ended their dealings with Wikileaks over concerns about the legality of posting classified documents. Other targets of “Operation Payback” include Swedish prosecutors involved in Assange’s rape cases, a Swiss bank, and Sarah Palin.
Cyber attacks on companies and the US government are nothing new. Earlier this year, China was involved in cyber attacks against Google amid a dispute with the company over censorship of internet search results. Over the past few years, the US military, as well as oil companies, have come under repeated cyber attack. China is a prime suspect in many of the attacks. Ironically, documents on Wikileaks include details on Chinese cyber attack plans.
A massive cyber attack could be viewed as a poor man’s EMP attack. Cyber warfare could shut down large segments of the economy and government, or, as with Operation Payback, it could be narrowly targeted at certain companies, government agencies, or military bases. Cyber warfare could most likely be repaired more quickly than an EMP attack, but if it were timed to coincide with other attacks, the damage could be multiplied.
The US government, as well as corporations, should take cyber warfare seriously. Cyber attacks should be given the same importance as conventional terror attacks. Even though they do not rack up the body count of a car bomb or crashing airplane, they have the capability to inflict much more widespread damage on the country as a whole.
It might be time to establish an interservice Cyber Warfare Command to coordinate computer defense. Patriotic hackers could be recruited and trained by the military to defend the nation’s computer networks from attack. Websites that are damaging to national security, such as Wikileaks, could be attacked if necessary. In certain cases, Special Forces or CIA agents might be used to attack cyber attackers physically.
Computers and the internet are a vital part of the US economy. We cannot stand idly by while they are attacked by other nations or cyberterrorist groups. Neither should we stand idly by while classified documents that can endanger our soldiers and our allies are released to the world.
“[T]here is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”- Luke 12:2-3