By now, there’s a fairly good chance your personal information has been exposed, to one degree or another, to hackers. Personally, I’ve received notifications from several companies and my college about hacking attempts they’ve suffered that made my personal information vulnerable to identity thieves, and you or someone know likely has, too. It’s the reality of living in the 21st century — hackers are constantly attempting to access our information, which requires us to take extra precautions to protect our important information. If only government were so concerned.
In 2013, 40 million customers of Target stores had their credit and debit card information stolen. The Equifax hack exposed nearly half the country, almost 150 million people’s personal information to hackers. Even the federal government suffered a breach when, in 2015, it was announced that the records of 21.5 million government employees and others who had gone through background checks for security clearances for the Office of Personnel Management had been stolen, likely by Chinese hackers.
If it’s digital, it vulnerable.
That truth presents the federal government with a special problem. The feds amass more data than just about anyone. And, more importantly, more sensitive data than anyone. And that sensitive data is a prime target for hackers, both from hostile states and anyone willing to sell to them. The potential rewards for bad actors are limitless, which makes the danger limitless as well.
The federal government is left scrambling to stay one step ahead of the hoard seeking to breach those secrets. This race had led to some necessary innovations and strategic thinking, like a decentralized system so no one can access everything by accessing one system. Well, they used to have a decentralized system, but in a boneheaded move only the government could concoct, the Pentagon is looking to create a single, giant database for our nation’s secrets in the cloud.
Being the government, they don’t have the ability to create their own cloud; they’re farming it out. Just imagine: the most important bits of intelligence our nation gathers — names, dates, spy satellite photos, bank accounts, everything required for our intelligence agencies to keep us one step ahead of our enemies, to keep us safe — all entrusted to one company.
And which company? Amazon. It’s not yet official, but the Pentagon has a “winner-takes-all” bidding process they’re advancing that even the other competitors for the contract admit Amazon will win.
This decision is, quite simply, crazy. Why would the government award a contract, this contract, to a company the president routinely puts in his crosshairs? As it turns out, you can thank President Barack Obama for that.
“To reward tech companies that supported his campaign, Obama populated the government’s digital services with their flunkies,” the Weekly Standard reported,including the fact that the Defense Innovation Board is “chaired by Bezos’s partner and fellow Clinton supporter Eric Schmidt.”
The swamp didn’t become so swampy by itself. As the Standard put it, this situation “created an environment where political enemies of President Donald Trump can continue to give kickbacks to the groups and individuals who opposed him, undermining his ability to lead our national security efforts.”
So, we have a national security system on the verge of consolidating all of its intelligence in one place, making it a prime target for hacking. And the company set to get the multi-billion-dollar, multi-year contract to house all of those secrets is owned by the richest man in the world, who just happens to be one of President Trump’s targets for criticism. Add to that the fact that the government bureaucracy that set this in motion is populated with people loyal to the previous administration and you begin to see the scope of this mess.
With all that has come to light about the intelligence community in the past month, the exposure of the Obama administration’s spying on the Trump campaign, the idea of trusting his appointees with protecting our nation’s secrets seems, at a minimum, ill-advised. And putting them all under one umbrella while trusting Amazon with them makes even less sense.
This is the swamp President Trump promised to drain.
The president, at a minimum, needs to stop the centralizing of our national security data. Unless and until we can protect our personal data and our credit card transactions, we should not put the biggest prize in international intelligence in one place. That would just be stupid.