A debate has been running for months both among government thought leaders and the technical literati on whether or not the US should appoint a “Cyber Czar” who can exert authority over IT security in the federal space or perhaps even aspects of the nation’s IT defenses. This is a complex discussion that has had some of the greatest thinkers in and out of government involved. We keep a portal of insights into these and many other related topics at our site on Cyberwar and Cybersecurity.
Unfortunately for those who would like to still debate and discuss this issue, there is already a Cyber Czar who can accomplish most all his objectives in our networks. He is Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. This former KGB operative now controls Russia with an iron fist and has shown others again and again he will exert influence anywhere he needs to in order to accomplish his objectives. He will use tanks when required and cyber when desired and combinations when it suits him. There are indications his agents are also in our networks now. If our objectives are to keep players like him out, we cannot say we are accomplishing them. If his objectives are to get in, then we can say he is accomplishing them. Till this situation changes, we need to confront then this new reality: Vladimir Putin is the Cyber Czar.
We have our own great technologists and wizards of cyber, of course. And we have great hero entrepreneurs of technology who have built the cyber world we all use today. One of those greats is Michael Dell, creator of an idea and corporation that develops, manufactures, sells and distributes personal computers we all depend on.
But he is someone who will now think twice before thinking he can interact as a peer to Cyber Czar Putin. After listening to Putin’s speech at the 2009 World Economic Forum in Davos, Michael Dell praised Russia’s technical and scientific prowess and asked a nice, friendly question: “How can we help.” As a former govie CTO I would get asked that type of question all the time from industry and really appreciated it whenever a senior thought leader would ask that. But not Czar Putin. He did not appreciate that at all. Putin was offended by the assertion that the mighty Russia might need help in anything Cyber.
Fortune: described the exchange this way:
“Putin’s withering reply to Dell: “We don’t need help. We are not invalids. We don’t have limited mental capacity.” The slapdown took many of the people in the audience by surprise. Putin then went on to outline some of the steps the Russian government has taken to wire up the country, including remote villages in Siberia. And, in a final dig at Dell, he talked about how Russian scientists were rightly respected not for their hardware, but for their software. The implication: Any old fool can build a PC outfit.”
Clearly cyber domination is personal with Putin. He is the Cyber Czar.
I think I should end with a plea to all who care about cyber freedom and all who know the potential positive contributions of IT: Please don’t be pleased with this current situation. Please don’t just think the title of Cyber Czar I’ve now used to describe Putin is something we should be proud of. It is not. We should continue to act till we are able to assert that we are masters of our own networks. Our nation’s intellectual property, including the intellectual property of all our companies and citizens, is too important to let it be given away without at least a cyber fight.
Track more on this topic at the CTOvision Cyberwar Site.
For more on these topics see the CTOvision Guide to National Security Technology and
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