“a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
The above is the actual text of the much talked about and heavily polarizing second amendment. Everyone knows why this passage is so controversial because the passage is not only obscure, but in my opinion completely unintelligible. The vague text of the second amendment has been left to multiple interpretations at so many levels.
Unfortunately, one of the challenges with America is its obsession with its constitution. A vivid democracy is one that evolves with times. A vivid democracy is one that adapts with the changes around. A vivid democracy is one that doesn’t look past the context of the original text and instead reinterprets the text based on the current context. A vivid democracy is one where its citizens are able to embrace the nuances of the metamorphosis of the country’s character in relation to the rest of the countries’ characters. In my 18 years in America, one thing I have learnt is that America is nowhere being that vivid democracy. As a proud American, how I wish it is!
The intent of this blog post is not to get back to harping at those second amendment huggers for their obsession with guns. But instead I want to offer a completely different interpretation and may be, just may be, this could evoke a conversation that in the next 20 years or so may bring in a true “amendment”. (After all, these are amendments, duh, which many fail to understand to begin with).
Today’s attacks on the North American internet services were triggered mainly by a program called Mirai (It is actually an IoT Botnet). What should be scary is the fact that Mirai could be used to get on a host to initiate DDoS attacks on several services very rapidly and very easily. I am not much familiar with how these work exactly, but I am knowledgeable enough to know that this is dangerous stuff. Really dangerous stuff. DDoS is Distributed DoS. What happened today (I am glad that Dyn has been able to mitigate the risk after 11 hours of battle) is just the tip of the iceberg. With our future seemingly floating towards IoT in every aspect of our lives, it is hard to ignore what happened today and move on. If an easy to use program like Mirai could be used to make every single home appliance as a host in an IoT future, imagine the extent of the paralysis that these attacks will eventually cause on our lives. It is just a matter of time before dozens or even hundreds of Mirai clones swarm the dark spaces of the web. These will be easily available for the cyber terrorists who derive pleasure from attacking other computers.
Now, imagine an organized group launching such attacks.
Taking it one step further, imagine a foreign government that puts together a “cyber military” to launch such attacks on the US, unannounced.
Even more dire would be to imagine a scenario when multiple governments come together to attack us and they are not just DDoS attacks but more penetrative hacks, syphoning private financial details and even pumping actual money out of our financial systems.
How threatened are you by this possibility?
In my opinion, this is real terrorism of our future. And this is exactly what we should really be prepared to defend ourselves for. In this context, let us revisit the second amendment. Shall we?
What are ‘arms’ in this newly interpreted context? You think a gun will help you overcome a cyber threat? How archaic is that thought? How so 17th century is that idea? An armed militia that needs to fight a dictatorial government in future (or a foreign enemy) should have arms that make sense for such a fight. Cyber Warfare is the last place where a gun would come handy in case you want to be a soldier.
Arms in a cyber warfare are not guns and knives, but they are knowledge and brain power needed to develop the required cyber skills to counterattack and mitigate the incoming attacks.
Let me say this again. The future attack that you and I should be worried about is the one when a tyrannical government (local or foreign) engages in a cyber warfare with you and me. And what we need to do to fight back is to be able to have an armed militia that knows how to take on these cyber attackers through their/our knowledge and skills.
So the meaning of “arms” changes completely in this context and hence what we all should be fighting to protect is an individual’s right to bear these “arms” (knowledge).