Dear Gideon, you tackled the issue in grand style. This is the sort of argument people need to hear.
“nor can I think of any prominent news story in which the snooper state has ensnared or blackmailed some innocent party.” Indeed not when the snooper state is accountable. But you can find many prominent news stories from publications like the FT and NYT where the snooper is or is associated with states like China, Iran, Uzbekistan or Syria. The sort of state that uses the same technologies to monitor for any dissident activity. China even went so far as to break into various Google and Yahoo accounts to frame dissidents such as Ai Weiwei. I trust within certain parameters the security complex that scans our internet traffic if it belongs to a state that has democratic checks and balances. But when the snooping states are such as the above, their snooping actions are driven by an entirely different set of intentions.
Did you have a chance to read
I actually found it in 2011 through a beyondbrics FT link
It’s an in-depth report on Chinese hacking. It also reveals how years ago many of the largest companies on the planet were ringing alarm bells, Google very much in public so, about Chinese hacking and snooping. It has escalated since to the degree where it is the number one item on the Xi-Obama agenda. Not because Obama wanted it there but because his administration had to take the various appeals seriously and address the issue at the most senior level.
Various banks have been hacked. All have line after line of fall back firewalls and 24/7 human monitoring so that any potential breach can be closed rapidly. But not all banks are as secure as others, and many banks may well have a closet of well guarded secrets, usually from around the time when the decision to take cyber security seriously was forced upon them.
At any rate we may have been complacent because we aren’t privvy to the details. The NSA wasn’t complacent, and it takes its task of monitoring our digital infrastructure most seriously. For which a bit of a “good job thank you” is in order too.
David Seaton is right but like with all such things the criminals are listening too. When one discloses how one secures things, the main benefactor then is the criminal who will then know the lay of the land. It is in the nature of security that secrets remain secret. There are notable exceptions such as in open source where the very openness of code leads to the best security. But the open source formula is but a part of the security of vital nodes in the digital infrastructure.