Saturday, July 16, 2011

Not With a Bang But a Whimper

In reference to the final stanza of "The Hollow Men," whether Eliot was alluding to Guy Fawkes and the end of his plot or not, it is the case, in my estimation, that Eliot was prescient beyond his own, or his critics' ken. Not by bombing or by warfare, but literally by the whimper that may be heard when the world as we know it fails and falls due to the breakdown of the information age as it is contained within cyberspace. Whether this is due to a deliberate act, or acts, or due to unintended consequences of inadvertant overload, it is evident that the possibility of such failure is real, and perhaps imminent.

That someone, or some electronic entity, is lurking within your personal system, taking and planting information unbidden by you, the user, is a given. In my own case, my computer has virtually maxed out its capacity by the simple addition of layer after layer of "protection" against such threats, and still they come.

This is nothing, given that we are hearing now of the extent to which the US military has been compromised by unbidden "spying" within its secure cybersystem. That world banking could be likewise compromised goes without saying.

Do you think it unrealistic that "it" may all come tumbling down?


Vee said...

Hope not, but I do think that is possible. If someone can develop a system, someone else can probably figure out how bring it down.

Secondary Roads said...

It certainly appears that "they" are building a house of cards.

Ilene said...

When I was a kid, the concept of "the end of the world" used to scare me to death, and thus the concept of God scared me. I thought that He, with his own powerful hand, was going to bring the world to its fateful end. Now I watch the news and say, "Yes, it really could happen, and God won't do it, Mankind will do it to himself. God, in his omniscience, would have known this when He inspired the book of Revelation to be written. Perhaps Eliot was inspired too.

vanilla said...

Vee, the corollary to "The Field of Dreams" notion that "if you build it, they will come" may be, "If you build it someone will destroy it, or misuse and abuse it."

Chuck, or perhaps as Pogo observed, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Ilene, though I am not a scholar, I have long believed that every society engenders within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
I fear that we, the world as a whole, have grown and planted, and are nourishing just such seeds. Just a matter of time until they come to fruition.
I am not a gloom-and-doomer, just a realist.

Anonymous said...

I make part of my living in computer security. There are absolutely, positively ways to shut off networks from the outside world, and increasingly this is what is being done with large data banks. The company I work for, for example, allows in/outbound Internet access over only a tiny sliver of its network -- in an entirely separate network, actually, that has no connection to any other network in the company. There is literally no way for the network that has Internet access to reach the other company networks; it is physically impossible.

The problem is that so many companies are not very smart about how they secure their data centers. But they all *get* smart after the first attack that compromises their data.

vanilla said...

Jim, thanks. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are networks that are impervious to attack. One supposes, though, that there is always the simple expedient of cutting off the power source?

Anonymous said...

Sure, power can be cut. But it can also be restored. Depending on the kinds of computers involved, they may come back up as if nothing happened.

vanilla said...

Jim, we Muggles tend to over-simplify everything.