Friday, January 6, 2012

Guest Post: John Mariotti author of The Chinese Conspiracy

John Mariotti, author of The Chinese Conspiracy, stopped by with a piece he wrote.



Wiki-Leaks:  Warning and Wakeup Call
by John L. Mariotti

Are you nervous about Cyber-threats now that Wiki-Leaks has been widely publicized?  I am, and you should be.  We all know about the dangers to privacy and securty on the Internet, but until now, we somehow seemed immune from it.  These so called "invasions" happened to somebody else.  Now it is closer to home.

When hundreds of thousands of classified memos are blasted into our consciousness, that blanket of comfortable distance falls away.  Wiki-leaks touched off a "cyber-storm" of awareness and concern.  It is a wake-up call - and a warming - of what might come next.

Used in the right combinations, hacking, viruses, worms, invasions, malware and distributed denial of service attacks can invade and/or shut down almost any modern system.  When the human element is added to the mix, the problem grows.  Humans are markably ingenious and flexible, yet, at the same time emotional and unpredictable.  Early hackers did it for fun and mischief.  If mischief turns malicious, trouble is not far behind.  Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, started as a young hacker in Australia.  Now, backed by a larger group of (mostly) youthful rebels, WikiLeaks steals and reveals hundreds of thousands of classified cables and memos.  Suddenly, any illusion of privacy or security is gone.  Aided by a single insider, WikiLeaks touched off a "cyber-storm" of awareness and concern, creating "instant involuntary transparency."

Computer systems, which run everything, are the product of human and electronic logic.  If someone tries to break into them, that can be detected and, sometimes, prevented.  Security companies everywhere create firewalls and software to identify and stop most of the invasions - but not all of them.  The intervention of people and the dynamic nature of computer networks, means that if just one invasion gets through, the system is breached.  Then, invaders can pour through the breach.  Former U.S. Government expert Richard Clarke describes such barriers with brutal honesty, saying, "They just don't work."

I don't believe anyone knows how to stop these attacks.  The U.S. government has been ominously silent.  It doesn't know how to stop hackers, or even slow them down.  The Chinese, known to be among the world's most advanced hackers, are concerned.  China claims to have the ultimate protection:  named the "Great Firewall of China," it can disconnect China's Internet from the global network, but that remains untested and unproven.  No one has any idea how to retaliate, either.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, the Pentagons's most advanced scientific group, is trying to tackle these invasions.  A cyber-security researcher and former hacker, Peter Zarko, leads the project.  Zarko proved his prowess by showing he could shut down large chunks of the U.S. telephone system, and claimed he and his hacker friends could shut down the Internet in 30 minutes.  But can his new effort stop the new wave of invasions?  No one knows, including him.

Finally, and perhaps worst of all, is the untraceable nature of most cyber-security breaches.  Current systems are always reacting to the last attack, without knowing where the next one will originate.  The dilemma is not just stopping the attack, but how, and against whom to retaliate.

Welcome to the new world of "involuntary transparency," where very little is truly private.  From your Facebook page to your Twitter tweets, someone might be watching and listening.  Maybe it won't be Wiki-leaks, but it sure is a warning and a wake-up call.



John Mariotti is an internationally known, award-winning author.

In The Chinese Conspiracy he merges an exciting fictional thriller with the factual reality of America's risk of Cyber-Attacks.

His last book, The Conspiracy Crisis was chosen one of 2008's Best Business Books.

Mariotti does keynote speeches, serves on corporate boards and is a consultant/advisor to companies on strategy/execution.  He can be reached at www.mariotti.net or www.thechineseconspiracy.com.

The Chinese Conspiracy is available now at on-line booksellers.



When Jim Martini goes back to his WV hometown to see why its major employer failed suddenly he finds more than a failed company. He risks his life, finds a lost love, and stumbles into an international conspiracy. A Chinese revolutionary group is using viruses, hacking, malware and cyber-technology to over-throw its own government and attempt to control the US--by shutting down all forms of computers and communications--all at once.

Suddenly nothing works-communications are "silenced". The US is preoccupied fighting global terrorism, so it's up to Jim, hometown friends and a small team of CIA, FBI, and NSA agents to overcome this devastating threat and stop The Chinese Conspiracy.

Set in the lush mountains of West Virginia and half-way around the world in China, The Chinese Conspiracy weaves a chilling tale of cyber-terrorism, current events and a tender love story. Read The Chinese Conspiracy and then call or e-mail someone you love, but do it while everything still works.



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