Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Data exhaust" indicates the Internet is doomed

The term "data exhaust" refers to an ability to predict future events (or even the current status quo) from existing but unrelated data (MIT/Stanford held one "data exhaust" event in January of 2010). Three headlines combine with the entirety of my other postings to give such a "data exhaust" foundation for prediction. First, U.S. Missile Defense CIO talks about why he is "sold on the cloud." The second talks about a general race to "the cloud" by the rest of the U.S. government. Then the third Computerworld headline this week caught my eye:

IT, security can't keep up as consumer device use grows
Remember the history of spreadsheets? Well, you old IT dudes will. The young breed represented by Anonymous and LulzSec will have to do some Googling to verify it. Remember how VisiCalc and Lotus 1-2-3 found their way into corporate America and world IT structures? People bought their own computers, their own spreadsheet software, and brought them to work. Whereupon the IT departments reluctantly had to support them.

Now look at today's proliferation of smart phones and tablet computers. Ain't no way IT or even draconian institutional policies can keep them out of our infrastructure institutions. Heck, the GSA and White House security couldn't even get President Obama to part with his BlackBerry. Mix this with "the cloud," which the head of my Cyber Privateer Fantasy League team (Larry Ellison) says is nothing but hype for online networks anyway, and you have a recipe for Armageddon.

In short, without a substantial change in our view toward cyber adventurers and rogue governments—and with the complete corruption of our regular IT supply chain (I reported on this as recently as two days ago)—it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict we're in serious trouble. The "data exhaust" suggests imminent collapse. That's the bad news.

The good news? Analysis of random and unrelated streams of "data exhaust" will probably let some very smart mathematicians predict misbehavior well enough in advance to mitigate damages or even prevent major terrorist, cyber crime, and cyber war disruptions. Call this the equivalent of hedge fund "quant shops" as applied to national security.

But we could certainly use the legalization of cyber privateers to buy us some time. Remember, playing defense at the exclusion of instant and disproportionate offense is not a good game plan.

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Implementation suggestions for THE MORGAN DOCTRINE are most welcome. What are the "Got'chas!"? What questions would some future Cyber Privateering Czar have to answer about this in a Senate confirmation hearing?