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From Russia with Malice

This could be a lot of fun. Just hear us out on this. As we know, the recent denial-of-service attacks on Twitter (whole-heartedly welcomed by RCPU, despite our own membership http://twitter.com/leepender) and other Web sites appear to have been the work of a bunch of Russians attempting to knock one Georgian guy off the Web.

Well, apparently, "the Russians," as we simply called them back during the Cold War, have been up to more than just messing around with Twitter. A couple of them were allegedly part of the biggest ever identity-theft case, which U.S. officials now say they've cracked and which led to the reissuing of your editor's debit card (there's a Hannaford grocery store down the street from RCPU's home office).

But that's not all. U.S. officials said this week that the Russian civilians who carried out denial-of-service attacks against Georgian Web sites last year did so with the cooperation of both the Russian military and organized crime. This, American officials said, could be the new face of war -- cyber attacks carried out to coordinate with actual attacks, with everybody from generals to consigliore (or whatever they're called in Russian) involved. And apparently, the Russians are at the forefront (such as it is) of this sort of thing. We at RCPU, of course, see this news as being absolutely, completely...awesome!

The Russians are back, baby! After two decades of boring Olympics and real terrorist attacks that got really scary, Cold War icons like Ivan Drago can officially be bad guys again, except without the hammer-and-sickle emblem, which was, objectively speaking, one of the better-looking logos of all time.

Finally, we'll get back to decent spy movies (or even spy-slash-gangster movies -- spectacular!), NHL players coming from places like Quebec and Minnesota, and the rebirth of the greatest sports rivalry ever: the U.S. versus the USS...actually, versus Russia, but a bad Russia that does nasty things online and really doesn't want Georgians starting Web pages. Yeah! John Hughes and Michael Jackson might not be around to see it happen, but the '80s are coming back.

There are negatives to all of this, of course. Without Russian players in the NHL, the league will be less exciting -- although the Bruins might actually have a real shot at the Stanley Cup -- and we'd hate to lose TV access to all those lovely Russian female tennis players. (Seriously, how much has the image of the Russian female athlete changed over the last 20 years or so?) But some sacrifices are worth it, and these days we like the old Cold War better than the hot wars we're engaged in now.

So, break out your throwback 1980 USA hockey jersey, watch Red Dawn on VHS (if you still can) and get ready for it to be us vs. them again, but this time online. It'll be an even colder war than before, with the weapons in this one being cyber attacks and malicious code. We're pumped about the 2012 Olympics already (let's face it -- 2010 is a lost cause, as they almost always clobbered us in the Winter Games, anyway). USA! USA! USA!

OK, OK. We're just kidding about all of this. Seriously. Yes, it's a little scary that U.S. officials are saying that Russian civilians are carrying out cyber attacks with the cooperation of their country's military and mobsters. But we have nothing against Russians at all -- really, we don't. Your editor has Russian friends, loves Russian food (and drink...) and has a brother-in-law who is fluent in Russian and used to live there. No kidding, there's no real hatred here, only a lame attempt at humor. We were just trying to spice up an otherwise dull August news day. After all, how could we not like the Russians? They're the ones who knocked out Twitter -- at least for a while.

What's your biggest concern about cyber security? What concerns do your customers or users share with you most? What's your favorite moment in U.S.-USSR Olympic history other than the 1980 hockey game, which was obviously the greatest sports moment ever? Answer any or all questions at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 08/18/2009 at 1:22 PM


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