NPR recently published an interview with author Fred Kaplan about his new book Dark Territory, which focuses on the history of cyber warfare. At the beginning of the chat, Kaplan explains how the United States efforts to combat hackers began after President Ronald Reagan watched the movie WarGames during his first stay at Camp David in 1983. For those who haven't seen the film, Matthew Broderick stars as a wizard hacker kid who accidentally taps into the main computer of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and nearly starts World War III. Days after watching the film, Reagan couldn't shake an unsettling feeling. So he brought it up during a big national security meeting:
"But he can't get this movie out of his mind, so he launches into this very detailed plot summary. And people are kind of looking around, raising their eyebrows, smothering smirks, wondering what's going on here. And he turns to his top general, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Vesi, and says general, could something like this really happen? And Gen. Vesi says, I'll look into that, Mr. President. And he comes back a week later and he says Mr. President, the problem is much worse than you think. And this leads, about a year later, to this first presidential directive on computer security. So it was at this moment that the policy debates and ideas and discussions of vulnerability that are now still headline news today first took form."
Head over to NPR to read the full interview.
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