Millions of people were hoping to catch a glimpse of Taylor Swift at this year's Super Bowl. That's likely due to the government's surprising announcement just four days ago that Bolt Typhoon, a complex of cyber attackers backed by the People's Republic of China, was pre-positioning itself within U.S. critical infrastructure in preparation for cyber warfare. There were probably more than a few million people who noticed.

Intellectual theft, weather balloons, TikTok, and now cyberwar. What is left for China before those responsible take action?

Like Taylor, technology tends to fascinate and fascinate us. YouTube is littered with videos of gearheads unpacking products and peeling the plastic off screens in a ritualistic manner. Cryptocurrency computer code, invented by who-knows-what with no fundamental value, no backing, and no adult oversight, piques our interest because it masquerades as “the people’s” money. Technology applications like TikTok have a pleasant, Polyan-esque, video game-like aura that tempts us into believing that nothing bad can really happen.

China knows how to make the most of it. If China had massed its troops offshore and focused all its rockets in the direction of major American cities, there would have been mass hysteria. But the insertion of digital explosives that can extinguish our water, light, and communication capabilities seems too real to even be worth crying out for.

Cyberspace has become the most dangerous and vulnerable ecosystem on Earth. Instead of calling for a timeout and reinventing ourselves to be more secure, we can defeat the endless exploitation by enemies of the state, hackers, terrorists, traffickers, and all-around bad guys. Think foolishly and play the role of a mouse on a spinning wheel. There is an ability to actively exploit the porosity of the Internet.

It makes no sense to share the same creepy cyber waters with countries like China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. We will never share military bases with them. But like the recent shooting across the bow of a US ship, symbolized by the Bolt Typhoon, governments are calling on corporations (who have no control over the actions of bad actors in cyberspace) to be more vigilant and Cybersecurity seems to be just a warning to spend a lot of money. The cybersecurity consultant, whose business is approaching $500 billion by 2030, likes this.

The government should announce that a consortium of democracies is taking steps to develop fundamental solutions to cyber insecurity.

First, actually authenticating a human rather than a machine or IP address adds a new level of certainty. Multi-functional processes are helpful, but time-consuming and annoying factors such as what the user knows, what the user has, what the user is, what the user does, and where the user is that actually strengthen authentication Few processes incorporate all of these. Additionally, a zero-trust architecture should be applied to prevent users from free roaming once authenticated to the domain. Digging into even a little anonymity in cyberspace greatly increases security.

Second, we need to adopt internal and external governance standards that impose rules of behavior similar to the rules we use to govern ourselves in the real world. It necessarily involves the creation of an unsolicited global governing body and the enforcement of rules by an easily identifiable and accessible cyber police powered by cutting-edge technology. Violations of the rules must be punished, perhaps by expulsion from the network or, in the worst case, digital erasure. Otherwise, honesty and civility in cyberspace are as optional as paying the fare to ride the New York subway.

Finally, we need to return to the concept of a secure private network (SPN), which was used in legacy computer systems before the advent of the Internet. These new SPNs must require compliance with the most stringent security protocols before passports are issued to a limited group of users. Anyone who does not accept these standards should be denied access, and perhaps non-democracies and online cyber freeloaders should be excluded.

There's no magic in these solutions. They simply mirror what we do in the real world, where fences, locks, borders, and police are always present. If we're willing to make these changes and pay a small price to build a more secure cyberspace, we won't have to worry about waking up to warnings that China is trying to turn on the United States. .

It's time to shake off the hypnotic effects of digital technology and face it as a mixture of good and evil. It must include an effort to assess the moral and ethical issues raised by the deployment of more powerful cyberweapons, as occurred with respect to the potential risks of nuclear proliferation after World War II. If we don't act wisely and just plod along the path paved by tech entrepreneurs, while we're distracted by Taylor Swift and TikTok on our screens, our enemies will be ours. It will slip into our lives and we won't even notice it. It's already late.

Thomas P. Vartanian is executive director of the Financial Technology & Cybersecurity Center and author of The Unhackable Internet.

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