Your Biggest Security Threat Could Become the FBI

How well-intended government hacks could carry the risk of crashing financial, medical and industrial networks.

When it comes to efficiency within the industrial sector, one of the biggest killers is equipment downtime. And with more equipment and machinery utilizing computer networks to drive automated production, a network outage absolutely kills this efficiency.

Now throw in the intellectual property often housed on these networks, and access and security are obviously huge concerns.

With that in mind, proposed amendments to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which would provide completely legal government access to individual computers and networks, has raised concerns.

Proposed with the best intentions, these changes would allow the FBI to secretly use malware in attacking computers suspected of being associated with criminal activity. So the government could access millions of computers with a single court-ordered warrant.

If Congress doesn’t pass legislation blocking the proposal, these new rules will go into effect on December 1.

A court order is still needed and the focus of the Justice Department is right where you’d hope it would be – terrorists, organized crime, cybercriminals and some depraved elements on what is often referred to as the deep web.

This added judicial freedom would also expand power beyond a geographical jurisdiction, so regardless of where the computers or IP addresses are based, their connection to a given network or networks would mean they can be subject to the warrant, and the government-sponsored hack.

The biggest problem – surprise, surprise – details on how exactly the government will execute the hack to ensure innocent people, the actual victims of cyber crimes, and more importantly, all their personal, financial, medical or proprietary data are not collateral damage has not been clarified in any way.

The government states that they will use botnets that won’t cause network outages or extract data. Opponents counter that if these hacks are too simple they’ll be found and targeted by anti-virus software – which would potentially shut down the entire network.

With more medical, banking and industrial networks employing such countermeasures, many advocacy groups see the potential for a government-sponsored hack producing outages as a genuine concern.