I hope you have a FireBuzz handy, because . . .
. . . while the Omicron variant may wind up no more threatening than the ordinary flu — have you gotten your flu shot yet? have you gotten your COVID booster? . . .
. . . Log4j is here.
Security pros say it’s one of the worst computer vulnerabilities they’ve ever seen. They say state-backed Chinese and Iranian hackers and rogue cryptocurrency miners have already seized on it.
The Department of Homeland Security is sounding a dire alarm, ordering federal agencies to urgently eliminate the bug because it’s so easily exploitable — and telling those with public-facing networks to put up firewalls if they can’t be sure. The affected software is small and often undocumented.
Detected in an extensively used utility called Log4j, the flaw lets internet-based attackers easily seize control of everything from industrial control systems to web servers and consumer electronics. Simply identifying which systems use the utility is a prodigious challenge; it is often hidden under layers of other software.
The top U.S. cybersecurity defense official, Jen Easterly, deemed the flaw “one of the most serious I’ve seen in my entire career, if not the most serious” in a call Monday with state and local officials and partners in the private sector. Publicly disclosed last Thursday, it’s catnip for cybercriminals and digital spies because it allows easy, password-free entry. . . .
But while we have our drink in hand, let’s also toast to the new Pfizer pill. Between that and the booster, can we all begin to exhale? Literally?
And there’s other good news.
We rescued the American economy (how quickly we take that for granted) . . . we’ve finally set out to revitalize the nation’s physical infrastructure (decades overdue) . . . we’re about to invest in our social infrastructure in a landmark, game-changing way . . . we’ve rejoined the community of nations that oppose autocracy and torture . . . we’ve restored competence and integrity to the top ranks of the federal government. These are not small things.
And this week, we carved out a filibuster exception to raise the debt ceiling past the mid-term elections . . .
. . . amid growing pressure to do the same for voting rights.
The urgency of this cannot be overstated. We are this close to losing our democracy and with it, the rule of law. If you doubt that, consider that in the face of Mark Meadows’ clear contempt of Congress, only two Republican House members, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, voted to hold him in contempt. The rest concluded that — although he had been subpoenaed and blew it off — that was okay. He was above the law.
Above the law, too, in their view, is their leader, who, they pretend to believe, won re-election by a landslide, as he continues to claim, and as most Republican voters have been misled to believe — and as not a single judge, including his own appointees, has affirmed.
For the first time since 1812, the Capitol was breached. For the first time since 1832, a former member of Congress was found in contempt of Congress. For the first time since our nation’s founding, a defeated president has rejected the peaceful transfer of power that defines democracy . . . and that up until this last election, had for more than two centuries been a model for the world.
We need to get this right.
We haven’t got much time.
(Same with climate: but there’s only so much one can be alarmed about in a single column. Come back tomorrow.)
Quote of the Day
Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.~Will Rogers
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