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HR: Cyber Wars
By Harun Rashid

9/7/2001 7:27 am Mon

[Kenyataan Rais menunjukkan kerajaan memang tidak mampu menangkis serangan dan hujah penulis siber sehingga ia mahu merobohkan rumah yang mengisi tulisan-tulisan itu pula. Pakar IT pro reformasi mampu menyerang dan menggugat SEMUA laman web kerajaan tetapi mereka tidak melakukannya kerana itu bukan langkah yang sepatutnya. Mengapa Rais begitu terdesak sampai kesitu pula?

Reformasi adalah peperangan minda dengan bersenjatakan kata-kata - bukannya peperangan untuk memusnahkan rumah yang mengisi kata-kata. Kata-kata sahaja sudah cukup berbisa sebab itulah al Quran pun berisi kata-kata juga. Itu jangan Rais lupa selama-lamanya kerana hati dan aqal itulah sasaran yang sebenarnya.
- Editor

Cyber Wars

by Harun Rashid

Jul 7, 2001

The defacto law minister, he of the putative thesis, has announced new missles to be launched at the windmills of cyberspace. These terrible weapons are said to be infallible. There has been some official frustration with the earlier models, which not only failed to demolish their target, but tended to turn tail and return to tarnish the testicles of the tyro techno-warriors.

What was widely suspected has been confirmed. The hacking of websites dedicated to exposing the misdeeds of Malaysia's polluted politicians was suspected to be funded by the Malaysian ministers themselves, but until now that was unconfirmed. Thanks to the announcement of the minister for cyberspace warfare, the battle is now joined.

The are more sharply defined, and it may be seen that there is some imbalance in the disposition of resources. One is reminded of other SE Asian conflicts, in which the might and modern armaments of the ground holder are pitted against the guerilla tactics of the lightly armed, yet more nimble forces of the challenger.

The scene of combat has been elevated to the boundless, and more indefensible, terrain of cyberspace. It is all imaginary, supported much as a computer game is, by the entertaining new technology. The difficulty with the party-in-power is that they tend to take it all seriously.

What has been a friendly skirmish, mainly held in bounds by a commitment to avoid outright censorship, has now turned nasty, with a stated intent to do harm. The legal apparatus of the country is to be brought into the fray, along with the ultimate weapon, the Special Branch, which physically grabs the enemy and his computer/weapon and subjects both to intensive interrogation.

Few survive unscathed. Some disappear forever. Many return from the experience devoid of memory, a phenomenon difficult to explain by any humanitarian standard. In many cases these braindead drones are brought into a courtroom to observe their prosecution.

Rarely does the judge notice that it is a mentaly incompetent zombie, incapable of understanding the proceedings, that is in the dock. The Special Branch specialises in "turning" its victims, and this often means turning them into vegetables.

No attempt to protect and defend these poor creatures is attempted, either by the appointed attorney or the sitting judge. It is a travesty of justice, Malaysian style. The world is certain to see more of this in months and years to come.

The duties of the 'law' minister are being more clearly defined. He has in his portfolio the impending new attack on the internet, specifically offensive websites. He intends to eradicate from cyberspace selected sites of his choosing, which may be regarded as more than a slight by the owner/webmaster. It suggests a technological bookburning. There was a similar position in the Third Reich, another authoritarian regime.

The good minister is poorly qualified to initiate a cyberwar. His understanding of the new technology is limited to hiring hackers skilled at defacing and employing goverment employees to send viruses to opposition figures by email. The MITI, devoted to international business relations, was recently guilty of purposefully directing viruses to selected addresses, though this was subsequently denied, on the grounds it was inadvertent. The evidence shows otherwise.

The good minister begins to appear as the local minister of disinformation, engaged more in the mis-interpretation of the law than in its implementation. Careful scrutiny of his language allows computer comparison with his printed thesis, and it is easy to surmise that there are other hands which held the pen. His subsequent disavowal of parentage of the work is thus facilitated, there being no apparent family connection.

The mis-use of the printed and electronic media is the dictatorial choice of the past. The use of similar methods to control communication and news will fail in the new age, a point the Malaysian ministers seem incapable of grasping. The number of websites far exceeds any capability for destroying them, and they can be cloned, mirrored and re-established much faster than they can be identified and attacked.

The minister might consider the case of the software developed to make transfer of CD's possible. When the court ordered this website to remove the offering, the software was quickly dissiminated to over 1,500 new sites in a matter of hours. Such is the power of the internet to thwart efforts to control content.

In spite of public statements that the new declaration of war is not censorship of the internet, it is difficult to avoid this conclusion. How else is it to be regarded? If this is to be a declaration of war, the foreseeable consequences are dire. The ability of independent computer owners to retaliate is enormous, ranging from boycotting firms who use electronic components manufactured in Malaysia, to actual removal of all Malaysian government websites.

The entire Malaysian IT structure is vulnerable, and an immediate truce is in the best interests of the party-in-power. Should the attack on students continue, and the ISA prisoners not be released, the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange could be attacked by young engineers alienated by the oppressive tactics being used. Other IT facilities are equally exposed. The Malaysian party-in-power is not prepared for any active confrontation on the cyberfront.

Let the good minister take note.

Link Reference : Cyber Wars