Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wikileaks and hacking in general

December 6, 2010

I believe all humans lie and all keep secrets. When I worked as a subcontractor for the government, one of the things I could do was lie well enough to pass a lie detector test. Most of my lies were lies of omission, but some were untruths I told. All spies lie. We have to in order to survive. Alternate identities are a lie. The way we walk is a deception: I am harmless. The way we talk is often a lie: I am not who you think. When we steal the secrets of others, we lie: I have nothing that could compromise you.

I stumbled across a secret that could have gotten me into massive trouble, had I revealed it. So, I never did. Even though its value has diminished over the years, I never will. Not telling is a lie. All secrets are, in essence, lies.

Our government tells us lies every day. Some of the lies are lies of omission, but many more are lies crafted by political parties to invoke fear into voters. Power is often maintained through a fabric of lies. When our government listens to its intelligence services for information relating to enfolding world events, it often is hearing lies. I know this, because by not telling my handler what I’d found out, I was, in effect, crafting a place where a lie could sit as its substitute. And, at least one lie did find its way into the fabric of our government’s understanding of world events because of my own actions.

When Julian Assange created Wikileaks, he and his followers worked for a world where truth can be more easily available. If no government lied to the world, what would the world be like?

Computer hackers have existed almost since the day computers were invented. Before I ever worked for the government, one of my major focuses as a management consultant was computer security. I worked on several computer crimes and solved them. I was quoted in Institutional Investor and in Pension and Investment Age on computer fraud and countermeasures and wrote an article for the Journal of Cash Management. I’ve been an expert on the topic of computer hacking for decades. About fifteen years ago, someone broke inot our house and stole documents that made it possible for them to sell my wife’s and my identity. I used my skills to track the culprit and find him (3,000 miles away). I helped get him arrested. My skills are still functional.

I think most hackers are better as fictional devices than as real people. In fiction, a writer can use a hacker to do either good or bad things. In real life, most of the hacking I know about is identity theft and its relatives. Nasty stuff. But, not all is bad. The hackers who “stole” secrets from our government and used Wikileaks to post them for all to see are doing us all a service, in my humble opinion.

The truth is out there. The hackers are setting it free.

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