Spy Plots, Cyber Hacks, and Homesteaders

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Posted by The Savvy Retiree on July 22, 2017 in Uncategorised

Tom Kerr writing on cyber hacks…

Cyber hacks and data breaches have dominated the headlines for years. Retail giants Target and Home Depot got hacked a few years ago. J.P Morgan – the biggest bank in America – was hit in 2014.

Been there, done that.

The credit rating bureau Experian was breached. The Pentagon, too.

Yawn.

I know, we’re all tired of hearing about it…especially with all the brouhaha surrounding Russian computer meddling.

But what most Americans don’t know is that they may be paying for antivirus software protection that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies do not trust.

The company Kaspersky Lab is ranked number four in the world in antivirus protection. It has also garnered awards for home-based computer security products…the kind you’ll see at retailers like Staples, Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon.com.

Kaspersky customers include the Department of Defense, Consumer Protection Safety Commission, and the federal Bureau of Prisons.

But in June a bill was introduced in Congress, by members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that would ban Kaspersky Lab products from use by the Department of Defense. Officials on both sides of the aisle don’t think the products can be trusted.

Bloomberg Businessweek cited email evidence that may indicate that Kaspersky Lab works with the Russian spy agency FSB…which replaced the KGB after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are reports of a Kaspersky Lab employee who used to ride along with Russian agents on raids of homes. Earlier this year, a Kaspersky executive was arrested for treason. Reports connected him to both the FSB and the CIA.

There are facts, rumors, innuendoes, investigations, and vehement corporate denials. But the deeper you dig, the more it starts to sound like one of those spy movies where nobody says for sure where the bodies are buried.

Amidst the controversy, Kaspersky Labs CEO Eugene Kaspersky recently unveiled the company’s next big thing…an operating system that can support and manage everything from factories and utility grids to the safety systems built into your vehicle.

Then Bloomberg ran a story explaining that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency may have concerns that the innovative product could enable Russian hackers to disable those very same systems.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Kaspersky Lab’s Chief Operating Officer, Andrey Tikhonov, launched his IT career while serving as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Russian Ministry of Defense.

I, for one, don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories and don’t walk around all day thinking up new ways to be afraid.

But if you’re running antivirus software from a company that might be in cahoots with Russian hackers, I do have a neighborly suggestion. Go online and research other brands…while your computer still works.

Regardless of what’s happening with antivirus software, America’s public grid and critical infrastructure are far from bulletproof. Already this year there have been two major cyber-attacks that affected dozens of countries, including the U.S. Even if nobody hacks America’s grid, it might just crumble due to old age…adversely affecting not just your computer, but your power grid and access to food and water.

But, as you may have heard me say before, nobody is out there plotting ways to hack a homesteader. When you’ve got a private water supply, some solar panels, a garden, and a greenhouse or root cellar, you’re going to feel secure.

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Image: ©iStock.com/JohnnyGreig