Here come the drums

We all see them, at times awe merely hear them, the rattles of sabres, the sound of the drums. Politicians in a stage of ‘Them be fighting words’, and for a moment it seems that they have balls, not sure where they keep them, but that could optionally be the topic of a very different conversation. As I see it, it all started with ABC giving us ‘The hundreds of billions being poured into Defence shows Morrison’s done with the old world order’ (at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-01/defence-spending-scott-morrison-miliatry-strategy-jennett/12410464), yet the quote “Morrison’s blunt language about the abrupt disappearance of the “benign security environment” is calculated to jolt the public into accepting the military escalation the PM’s ordering and it is paying for. At $270 billion over a decade, the money is considerable, but dollars alone do not explain what’s happened in defence, diplomatic and national security thinking since the last Defence White Paper was handed down by Malcolm Turnbull in 2016” implies something different and something more. We might think that it is about China, but the rhetoric does not quite work, so when I see “Who else could the White Paper be referring to when it inserts the words “coerce” or “coercion” a dozen times in a document only 12 pages in length. He is not freelancing, but accurately reflecting the wider shift in thinking and disposition that the boundary riders have adopted. In their view, there’s no point in a prime minister banging on about defending the international “rules-based order” anymore — China’s not playing by those rules and Trump is rewriting them on the fly, as he sees fit, on any given day.” I see a different horse, but I will update you soon, There is another article linked to this. The article I am referring to is the one given to us on June 19th by news.com.au, the article starts with ‘Australian Government and businesses hit by massive cyber attack from ‘sophisticated, state-based actor’’ (at https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/hacking/australian-government-and-private-sector-reportedly-hit-by-massive-cyber-attack/news-story/b570a8ab68574f42f553fc901fa7d1e9), I see it differently, but lets put that aside for now. The quote gives us “In an urgent press conference called this morning in Canberra, Mr Morrison said the ongoing, “large-scale” hack was being executed by a “sophisticated, state-based cyber actor”. “This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure,” Mr Morrison told reporters.” Now, I am not stating that it is wrong or inaccurate, but the game is actually a little different from my point of view. You see, for the last few weeks Australians have been under attack, being it from the Department of Housing, the Justice department as a few criminal cases are coming to light and these calls are coming from a so called ‘automated voice’, yet they seemingly come from numbers like 08-92166959, 08-92100644, 08-71603541 and when you call them, these numbers are disconnected, calls over a month from multiple numbers all scam based and it was going on for a month, so we can argue that as these scammers are not stopped, how does Scott Morrison have any foundation to stop so called state-based actors? It is simple math, when the cyber sleuths can stop scammers, we can argue they might be ready for the real deal, but the real deal has superior hardware, all whilst the hunt for scammers is not really in a stage of being successful at present, I actually wonder whether they can identify these so called ‘sophisticated, state based cyber actors’, is that a foundation we can get behind? Oh and by the way, there is no evidence that these scams are Chinese, at least I saw no evidence of any kind, so I cannot make such an assumption. We can argue all we like on the need for $1-$1.3 billion on that stuff, but there is (as I personally see it) a lack of how to deal with the problem, you know, the odd execution, the simple stage of evicting these criminals (if they are not Australians), or perhaps long term eviction to a dark prison in Darwin (presumably a black site), the law stops to a larger degree the persecution as evidence is key here and so far the collection of evidence is pretty much a bust. That is not the fault of the police or the AFP, it is the lack of hardware and the lack of expertise. That is where things tend to go wrong and if these players lack the resources to find scammers, the other group remains untouchable. That is how I see it. The second stage that I see is that the Australian PM is how shall I put it, the bitch of the US president? Yup, not elegant but pretty spot on, the US is setting the stage where we can only be friends with the US if China is our enemy, a way of thinking that is massively shortsighted and the Commonwealth will pay for that acceptance dearly in several ways down the road. Now, if China was an actual enemy and danger it would be one thing, but the US has yet to deliver any substantial evidence on that effect. Yup, there is every chance it can towards the Chinese government, but not in regards to Huawei and as the US sees both as one and the same, the evidence tends to be tainted and can we afford that approach? That is the situation and as I see it the Commonwealth is being pulled down a maelstrom of bad situations that can only get worse over time. That is seen when we look at the talking points a mere two days ago when we saw ‘It is understood Australian officials believe China is responsible for recent cyber hacking activity’ in this case I am not going to hammer on evidence, there is such a thing as ‘national security’ and one can validly argue that I need not be in the know. Yet the underlying situation remains, if the scammers can continue unopposed, what chance do we have stopping any optional state funded cyber actor and why bother, we could argue that the billions will not make too big a dent, not until the expertise is in the house and the Australian house is seemingly lacking expertise, it is not stupid, it has skills, but it needs a lot more and if that billion also provides training, then it is one thing, but I wonder how much training makes up for the shortages. My view is only one view, but some share that view and even as consultants from all over the place are happy to help, we see a larger stage where defence funds are swallowed by over priced consultants, the US fell into that trap in the last 10 years and the Commonwealth needs to avoid that very same trap. 

The problem is that there is no clear cut solution, there is no bandaid fixing the situation, but it needs fixing, no one denies this, I merely hope that we go about that stage in a clearcut manner, and I do hope that we are not merely targeting the enemy of the US without proper evidence. If there is evidence that China is marking us then that is one thing, yet we need to keep the Chinese government issues and the Huawei issues separate, the US does not think that this is possible, I am not convinced it is so, but if proper evidence is presented, I would change my mind, wouldn’t you? The issue there is that the US no longer has any credibility, so we need to rely on third parties to inform us and that is not the greatest place to be in. So we can hear the drums, but who is directing the drums is one thing, in what direction they are playing is another, a cyber stage with two unknown variables, also (as I personally see it) a stage that we are not familiar with, actually three when you consider the non-reliability of an ally. 

 

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Filed under IT, Law, Politics, Science

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