If you’re reading this, go ahead and assume your digital information isn’t safe and that Arizona’s Republican leaders are absolutely fine with that.
The future of security is cybersecurity, but instead of properly funding education or writing new laws to give police and prosecutors the megawatts necessary to short circuit the threat, our state’s so-called conservatives have wasted money and time by hiring “Cyber Ninjas” – NINJAS?! – to investigate a hack that never happened.
Give it up, gang: Your man lost the presidential election.
There’s no evidence whatsoever of cheating, and unless you want to energize liberals locally the way Donald Trump energized them nationally, you’ll need to start fixing actual tech problems rather than inventing them and turning our state into a punchline in the process.
Arizona’s economy is at risk
It’s not like Arizona isn’t already known for the QAnon Shaman – that guy with the horns and the spear and the make-believe religion from the Capitol riot … or for a state senator, Kelly Townsend, who compared COVID-19 vaccination efforts to communist China and Nazi Germany … or for an energy policy wonk, Jim O’Connor, spreading boogey-man myths, claiming the shot puts people into a coma … or for racist legislation that makes it harder to vote … or for even more racist immigration policies that keep newcomers from making America great.
All this, plus a wickedly underfunded public school system?
We’re a joke.
Why would anyone want to move here? Or move their company here? Or stay here if they get other options?
The state’s economy is going to slow down like a web browser with too many tabs open unless political leaders and lawmakers plug in on a real issue like cybersecurity, which former Arizona governor and homeland security chief Janet Napolitano said in an interview with NPR “needs to be a top priority from a security standpoint.”
We’re online now more than ever
Right now, the Cyber Ninjas, the consulting company hired to audit Maricopa County’s election results, are kicking and chopping holes in the credibility of a fair election.
This sham of an audit has cost taxpayers $150,000 and Republicans are using it to try to raise nearly $3 million, presumably to cover the cost of the review, but more likely to support upcoming election campaigns. It’s rife with obvious mistakes that observers are calling out.
Ironically, the audit itself may be creating new opportunities for data leaks.
Meantime, we have real issues that need attention.
Education and work have gone online as a result of the pandemic, revealing the depth and breadth of a digital divide in knowledge and connectivity.
How many people think “cybersecurity” means changing a password once every decade or so, and struggle even to do that? How many people can encrypt their email or activate two-factor authentication without wanting to throw their computer into the Grand Canyon?
Why aren’t we teaching this stuff to students and parents who have to use technology every day?
We certainly aren’t about to use technology less, so we need to start paying proper attention to it more, and Republicans are just handing that territory and the votes that come with it to Democrats.
Bad actors could be everywhere
Napolitano has sent the alert.
“You have lots of potential bad actors,” she said in a recent interview with Issues.Org. “Nation states, including Russia, Iran and China; groups that may or may not be affiliated with nation states; and individual malefactors … I think we’re really just at the beginning of dealing with cybersecurity as a threat and having a real national cybersecurity strategy.”
It was almost a prediction of the Colonial (oil) Pipeline hack.
President Joe Biden has a plan to improve internet service in cities and out in the country, saying the “digital divide needs to be closed everywhere, from lower-income urban schools to rural America, to many older Americans as well as those living on tribal lands. Just like rural electrification several generations ago, universal broadband is long overdue and critical to broadly shared economic success.”
He had a meeting recently with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who has widely discussed the need for digital infrastructure improvements in Arizona.
But, hey, those Republican lawmakers have ninjas, right?
Republicans will regret not taking this seriously
They’re going to get the whole party punished in midterm elections if they don’t shift their priorities.
Republicans in the Legislature could find ways to give schools more money to hire tech teachers and create a forward-looking curriculum to support them at all levels of elementary and secondary education.
Laws could be written to mandate law enforcement spending on training and personnel to fight cybercrime – we can’t call them “ninjas.” That name is taken.
Maybe Cyber Samurai?
Internet Ghost Busters?
Digital Star Warriors?
Whatever we call them, we need them.
Because if you’re reading this, you can go ahead and assume your digital information isn’t safe and that Arizona’s Republican leaders are absolutely fine with that.
Reach Moore at email@example.com or 602-444-2236. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @SayingMoore.
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