Creative cyberwar tactics

If Sony Pictures’ abject surrender to hackers is allowed to stand, our First Amendment will become meaningless, and our nation will be a sitting duck for whatever crazed interests can pull together the resources to hack and blackmail anyone who uses the internet.  Serious measures are called for.

Speaking at the White House yesterday, spokesman Josh Earnest promised a “proportional” response, but he noted that because of the highly technical nature of some means of cyberwarfare, necessary secrecy means that “I don’t anticipate that we’ll be in a position where we’re going to be able to be completely forthcoming about every single element of the response that has been decided upon.”

It is well and good to harden our internet defenses and maybe even fight back with some new variant of the Stuxnet strategy, infecting those who have been aggressors.  But a public face of the cyberwar is also necessary, if only to deter ISIS or some other group from imitating the stratagem employed on The Interview in order to dictate what may or may not be seen in the United States.  

The Review & Outlook column of the Wall Street Journal offers a creative approach that just might teach a lesson to North Korea and, by extension, future blackmailers.  Park Sang Hak, who defected from North Korea, has been launching balloons into North Korea for some time now, carrying USB thumb drives that contain television and movies with information on the outside world.  Many video players exist in North Korea, smuggled in from China, and via thumb drives, information about the outside world has been making its way into the country.  It is impossible to know how many such players exist, but I have read estimates that a significant portion of the population has access to them.  It is believed that the ability of the regime to convince North Koreans that South Koreans live in worse poverty and despair has been completely broken, thanks to the availability of video programming depicting life in the South.

The Journal writes:

Mr. Park wants to include “The Interview” on future balloon launches. But there is another way to make sure that the movie gets the giant audience that Kim fears, even in North Korea: Make it free.

Sony might fear retribution if it did this, but an alternative would be for the U.S. government to buy the movie rights from Sony and release it into the public domain. Anyone could then share the file online without violating copyright, burn it onto DVDs or even re-edit it to make new viral videos. Chinese netizens love to mock Kim, and North Koreans like to watch movies smuggled across the border from China. Perhaps the CIA could dub the movie into Korean to make sure it gets to its target audience.

Talk about proportional! This freeing of information has a lot of appeal to me.  Besides, now that the movie is such an issue, I want to see it.

Our system thrives on openness.  We can make it work for us.

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