Saturday, July 16, 2011

A New Battlefield

“We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.” (Ephesians 6:12, CEV)  When the apostle Paul addressed these words to the believers at Ephesus, he was undoubtedly warning them of the unseen but very present forces that sought to attack them and undermine their faith.  The modern world has taken the battle with the unseen into a new arena. 

In an NPR broadcast this week, listeners learned that in the spring the Pentagon suffered large losses of sensitive data from its computers due to a cyberattack by a foreign government.  The report also stated:

At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta cited "a strong likelihood that the next Pearl Harbor" could well be a cyberattack that cripples the U.S. power grid and financial and government systems. He said last weekend that cybersecurity will be one of the main focuses of his tenure at the Pentagon.

In an age so dependent on computer systems and digital technology, our nation must not only be prepared to defend itself on the ground, on the sea, in the air and in space but in cyberspace as well.  There are those who would take advantage of our dependence on our machines not only to steal from us but to threaten us physically as well.

We are reminded once again that the things we create are neither good nor evil.  These are moral standards that apply to how our creations are used.  The most beneficial devices can be used for evil intent.  A gun can be used to bring home food for the family or to kill a person.  We make the choice about its use.  The same is true of our digital devices.  They may be benign in and of themselves, but we must be careful that they are not used in malicious ways.

For a couple of decades, we have been aware that there are those who would use the Internet and our computers for their own purposes—pornography, theft, destruction of reputations, and gambling among other things.  While most of us use these devices for constructive personal and professional use, others find ways to turn them to other purposes and are usually the first to benefit financially from the abuse of new technology.  The choice is a human one with moral implications.

I am not suggesting that we wean ourselves off the Internet and our digital devices. I am saying that parents, homeowners, business people, educators, and church leaders must learn how to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their institutions from those who would use these conveniences to attack us.  There are “rulers of darkness and powers” who will use their digital knowledge to take advantage of us, so we must we wise, responsible and proficient as we live and work in this new world.

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