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Ross: US becoming more dependent on technology we don’t understand or control

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The reason we spend $740 billion a year on the military is to make sure that we have the most powerful fighting force in the world, so that it would be foolish for any nation to take us on.

Our enemies have gotten the message — they will never challenge the full might of the U.S. military.

They don’t need to.

“Bad actors were essentially able to force the shutdown of the largest refined petroleum pipeline in America,” CBS reporter Christina Ruffini said.

They didn’t need planes, or ships, or even soldiers.

“Georgia-based Colonial Pipeline says it was hit by ransomware,” CBS Weekend News anchor Adriana Diaz noted. “The company responded by shutting its entire system down to protect it. The company transports 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast.”

Shut it down to “protect it” – which means they thought the hackers could actually have destroyed the pipeline by remote control, and just like that, 45% of East Coast’s fuel supply – just cut off.

If this had happened because of a naval blockade, it would be an act of war. We’d be out there sinking those ships. But thanks to the internet, there’s no need for blockades because it appears a certain pipeline company can be shut down by a combination of keystrokes!

Did they not sign up for two-factor authentication? Please don’t tell me the control center password was “password.”

And what’s the backup? If we all had hyper efficient solar panels, we could just charge up our electric cars. But we don’t.

We are more and more dependent on network-based technology that most of us can neither understand nor control. This technology is responsible for not just the fuel, but the lights, the water, and all communication.

Every time my smart phone is slow to boot up, I wonder – is this the day? Is this the day the smart phones go dark?

How do I tell my wife to meet me at the Starbucks in 15 minutes? Send a post card? Because right now, that’s the backup … except for my Radio Shack walkie-talkies, but she refuses to carry hers.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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