[Updated] Heartbleed and the NSA

UPDATE:  Looks like the story may well have been based on bad intel:  http://arstechnica.com/security/2014/04/nsa-used-heartbleed-nearly-from-the-start-report-claims/

There are some shrieky articles out there, so beware, but that one seemed mostly reasonable.

Original Article Below:

Well, I did call it:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/nsa-said-to-have-used-heartbleed-bug-exposing-consumers.html

The story also alludes to my other prediction that the NSA will simply move on to the next of the myriad vulnerabilities they’ve discovered and continue to keep secret.

This is not acceptable.  I understand that the government has a very tough job to do in preventing terrorist attacks and other similar events which are extraordinarily hard to defend against, but we cannot sacrifice our public trust and security so that a heavily funded and highly trained group of sentinels can gain the power to crush any of us at a moment’s notice, leaving us to simply hope and trust that this power will not fall into abusive hands.  Others I know have referred to the NSA’s outrageous apparatus as a “turnkey totalitarian state.”  This is a serious point which deserves to be taken seriously.

The problem faced by the NSA is not unique, and this sort of underhanded deceit is not unique to their domain.  People I have worked with in the IT industry commonly refuse to share information out of the fear that it will devalue their selves.  People I studied with in my graduate program committed the same sins.  Everywhere, people want to control information to serve their own ends.

But this is, of course, immoral.  It is wrought out of the cowardice born of stagnation.  Perhaps the issue can be clouded up sufficiently to induce some lenience by focusing on what preferable consequences might be made more likely through such behavior, but nonetheless, it remains immoral, for it disrupts the foundation of trust required for civilization to function.  It is no better than any other clandestine attempt to harm one’s neighbor behind smiles and friendly conversations.

The NSA needs to be honorably dedicated to defense.  We need to be a secure, strong people, and we need to accept that abandoning immoral activity may increase the likelihood that we will be attacked, harmed, and even killed.  But until we can stand tall in the face of such danger and nevertheless refuse the disgrace of immorality, we will continue to be a fearful people living in a frightening world.

Righteousness is the only salvation for mankind.

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