Cyber-Cerberus and Hackers’ Hades How to make home(land)s cyber-safer places
The creation of cyberspace may be perceived either as a benign addendum to the biblical Book of Genesis or as man’s fatal conceit making a virtual world mimicking the inherited one. Is it a smarter cover for the physical world – with its old-days and more predictable social life, economic cooperation, and power politics – or a digital hallucination – leaving us disturbed? The godfather of cyberspace is considered William Gibson. He invented the word, using it in his SciFi Burning Chrome story and Neuromancer novel. You do not have to be full-time scientific-fantasist to get the side effects of an avatar-world. An avatar-world will accordingly develop goods and bads that will transcend it and trespass it. Its goods will enhance the source realms, its bads will strike back in it, as happened in the world of www, Facebook, Wikileaks and US presidential campaign interfered by maleficent descendants of the “dark-side” soviets.
Old problems with keeping intimacy and accessing information, with private trading and public regulations, upon which each and every society endlessly debated throughout history, only change the place in cyberspace. Legally, cyberspace is at the crossroads of material and intellectual property rights as it inevitably relies on a hardware infrastructure that hosts and holds the ordered electronic impulses. Economically, it is a high return powerhouse for virtual in- / through- / out-puts and marketplace for real stuff that even if it cannot yet fit the optic fibre it is negotiated / contracted online. Politically, it is a reservoir of power and a debouche of governance practices that can easily by digested once administered in e-doses, while in the same time develop #resist immunities. All these consequences augment once digits allowed to unite nations rebel against old customs, in a momentarily unmapped world-wide civil society.
Societies always had to face an inflated supply of benevolent characters, for no one could soundly claim that is against the social order and progress. These benevolent personages were naïve utopians or well-trained cynicists, imperturbable idealists or real-politic opportunists. They are alive and kicking also in the present cyberspaces. A particular treatment deserves the unimpeded “expropriating property protector”, “monopolizing de-monopolizer”, “unregulated regulator”, and “insecurity securitizer” – that is the state. Claiming to defend citizens from external threats amongst which terrorism is the ultimate menace (since virtual territory is much more porous and penetrable), the state apparatus is the (un)fortunate benefiter of the (un)intended consequence of securing an extra-eye on civil society whose reformative pressures, some of them indubitable good, risk to leave various “apparatchiks” simply jobless.
Fighting to cyber-secure spaces is equally a private endeavour and a public one, with obvious trade-off between the two. This (hi)story is as old as the hills: people fought to defend their homes and families, as well as those of their landlords, from foreign villains, as well as from their scoundrel landlords. In cyberwarfare, both private and public, this feeling looks so pressing, for you never know for sure when “Big Brother” is only a “step brother” or eventually no brother at all. Almost all dystopias involve the advent of powerful technology that leaves ordinary people powerless and almost all end-up with heroes able to discern among real and imagined friends and foes and to liberate their oppressed people from ignorance and helplessness. Cyber-life does not differ from prior technological revolutions, the moral is the same: those who foolishly trade freedom for security might find short of both.