When the disastrous data breach goes down, it bypasses the digital dossiers of the data brokers. It turns out not to matter so much that the Montgomery Clift character, “Prew” Prewitt, wanted to play the bugle rather than to box, or even that he killed the evil Ernest Borgnine character, or where he was hiding out. What we did to protect the privacy of our self-deluding human foibles that we don’t want surveilled does not help us much. Because the disastrous data breach hits right at the mother lode of sensitive information, the database of deep background investigations of US federal officials. This deep personal information lends itself not only to generations of social engineering attacks, but to multitudes of blackmail opportunities, decades of Denny Hasterts.
When we finally get our Cyber Pearl Harbor, we don’t get the sudden drama of bombers, fighter planes and torpedo planes appearing over our heads at 7:48 in the morning, the bomb blasts shaking our barracks. Burt Lancaster does not make the sudden transition from philanderer to fighter, running up to the roof to begin firing away. This time, we have lulled ourselves into indifference by telling ourselves that a breach is a breach, that a credit card breach is not so different from this kind of breach, and we have all received so many formalistic breach notices this year that we have become numb to them. And we have heard all about state-sponsored breaches, too, like North Korean attacks on Seth Rogen.
This time we hardly notice that Pearl Harbor just happened.