In order to curb cyber attacks on companies that control critical infrastructure, the US federal government is launching a new surveillance program dubbed “Perfect Citizen”. The people behind it are already calling it “Big Brother”.
The purpose of the “Perfect Citizen” program is to monitor critical infrastructure like electricity grids and nuclear-power plants and prevent cyber attacks from occurring. The NSA would place sensors in computer networks and watch for any unusual activity. An internal email said, “Perfect Citizen is Big Brother”, which is damn scary but the truth is, many large, older computer control systems like subway systems, air-traffic control networks, etc, weren’t designed to connect to the internet but are now linked in to it, making them vulnerable to such attacks. These old systems could use a big brother.
A US military official said:
The program [is]long overdue and any intrusion into privacy is no greater than what the public already endures from traffic cameras. It’s a logical extension of the work federal agencies have done in the past to protect physical attacks on critical infrastructure that could sabotage the government or key parts of the country
The overall goal of the program, according to the US government, is to close the holes in our critical infrastructure and eventually, when the government builds up enough data, help other companies deal with cyber attacks (like Google earlier this year). Which sounds very charitable of our government.
The truth likely lies somewhere in between that and “Big Brother”, but as long as “Perfect Citizen” keeps the important things running and doesn’t extend a peek into unimportant ol’ me, I’m actually OK with it. I think. [WSJ]