Led by resignation of the head of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in the wake of a staggering cyber-attack by hackers thought to be operating in China, left was deep-seated cyber security problems at the agency and across the federal government unsolved. Members of Congress in both parties had been calling for Katherine Archuleta, the agency’s head, to step down since the agency first disclosed a massive hack of government personnel databases containing personal information on millions of current and former federal employees. As the reports on the number of affected people grew from four million to north of 21 million on Thursday, Archuleta, who had previously resisted calls to resign, had little choice as political pressure grew. The federal government’s problems with computer security won’t be easily solved with changes at the top. Reports by the Government Accountability Office dating back to at least 2011 identified a cyber-security skills gap among federal workers at numerous agencies.
The report cited cyber security as one of six mission critical skills gaps detected within the federal workforce and said it posed an extremely high risk to the nation. A covert Chinese group known as Hidden Lynx is believed to have up to 100 skilled hackers who carry out prolonged campaigns on behalf of their clients. Software Company Symantec has been tracking the group for the last two years and found them to be behind six major online attacks. The group employs sophisticated hacking techniques in campaigns, which are meticulously researched, at times targeting hundreds of different organizations at the same time. More than half of Hidden Lynx's targets are based in America according to the report, with organizations in Taiwan, Germany, Russia and China itself also being attacked. Financial institutions such as investment banks and asset managers are most commonly hacked, while generally, all levels of government from local to national level have been targeted.
A cybercrime, also known as a computer crime, is any crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target for this case. Other than that, Net crime is criminal exploitation of the Internet, inherently a cybercrime. Such crimes may threaten a nation’s security and financial health. Issues surrounding these types of crimes have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is intercepted or disclosed, lawfully or otherwise.
Deception runs like red thread throughout the human history and a good example of study conducted in 2002 by Robert S. Feldman who secretly videotaped students who were asked to talk with a stranger. Human beings engage in forms of non-verbal deception which in this case relates to the deception of governments in collaborating with hackers. Internationally, both governmental and non-state actors engage in cybercrimes, including espionage, financial theft, and other cross-border crimes. Activity crossing international borders and involving the interests of at least one nation state is sometimes referred to as cyber warfare.
In a previous article by Stanley Milgram, it was proven in a test between volunteers that obedience to authority can become dangerous in “The Perils of Obedience.” The volunteers think they are shocking the actor, and that it is part of an experiment to test the “effects of punishment on learning” (Milgram 317). What the volunteer does not know is that the experiment is really a test to see how far people would go in harming other human beings. The volunteers’ morals were put up against “stark authority” (Milgram 317). During cybercrimes for this case, authority overtakes morals most of the time and hackers for instance feel compelled to do as the government asks them under some particular basis without looking on the other extreme negative side. Milgram’s purpose in doing the experiment was to show just how powerful obedience to authority really is. How easy is it for people to say, “I did it because I was told to?” Don’t most people think about obedience?.
Obedience to authority can quickly take a turn toward danger for example where international cybercrimes are involved since strikes may occur or even worse. Roles in society can be taken to extremes and others can be hurt as a result and therefore the government should be cautious while handling such risks.