Cyberattacks and our spiritual fortress
A Christian Science perspective.
The digital age of the past 30 years has seen an explosion of microprocessor speeds and bandwidth, resulting in mind-blowing amounts of data sharing and communication around the globe – and a euphoric feeling of unchecked freedom.
But there's a dark side gaining ground within this realm. E-mail accounts frozen. ATMs shut down. Gas pipeline data pilfered. Government offices hacked. Just recently in South Korea, 32,000 computers at several banks and television stations were assaulted by malicious software that temporarily froze transactions and derailed operations.
The culprits? Generally speaking, they are individual hackers, “hacktivist” groups, cyber crime gangs, and even nation-states who use their military wings to spy on and steal from other countries. These developments all point to the need for greater alertness, vigilance, and foresight – and for tempering society's zeal to become so Internet-dependent.
Whether we work for a corporation at risk of attack or employ personal computers for banking or shopping, we can resist the temptation to hit the panic button. The motivation of some perpetrators is just that – to instill fear, to intimidate, control, and terrorize. We can effectively replace fear with a clear and calm frame of mind that affirms God's loving power and dominion over all the earth. This kind of prayer overrules all evil, whether apparent or hidden.
Even as concrete steps are taken to shore up computer systems, we can exchange a paranoid fortress mentality for a trusting, prayer-based consciousness that consistently appeals to divine Love, a synonym for God, as our "rock" and "fortress." The Psalmist's appeal to his God includes these comforting words and metaphors: "Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength" (Psalms 31:3, 4).
This psalm has traditionally been attributed to David – the same man who, as a young boy, defeated the warrior Goliath who had so terrorized the Israelites. With one small stone flung from a very low-tech sling, he defeated the malicious Philistine's attempt to enslave a nation. "Oh how great is thy [God's] goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee;... Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man," the psalm continues (verses 19, 20).
In Christian Science another synonym for God is Mind. This word implies that all true intelligence, control, wisdom, direction, and determination belong to God alone. His benevolent dominion fills all space, and, in fact, the real universe is entirely spiritual and indestructible. Nothing that is wholly good, created by the one infinite God, can come under attack or suffer penetration by its opposite, evil. Since God, good, is All-in-all, the machinations of evil are neither real nor harmful, but are mockeries of strength, counterfeits vying for power, having not a leg – no divine law – to stand upon. It is our persistent acknowledgment of and faith in the supremacy of good, God, that defeats apparently malicious plots, and even heads them off at the outset.
When computer viruses and malfunctions have at times threatened our family, I have found refuge in this statement by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy from her textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "Mind, supreme over all its formations and governing them all, is the central sun of its own systems of ideas, the life and light of all its own vast creation; and man is tributary to divine Mind" (p. 209).
According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary, which Mrs. Eddy used, “tributary” means “subject to” or “subordinate to.” How reassuring to know, with the Psalmist, that “my times are in thy hand” (Psalms 31:15). Through heartfelt prayer and a calm trust in divine Mind's supreme government, I have experienced several remarkable restorations of apparently lost data and otherwise disrupted computer systems. No situation – individual, electrical, transcontinental – is ever beyond divine Love’s control.
As our world grows closer together, the bands of trust and goodness must strengthen, even as wicked and selfish endeavors "fall into their own nets" (Psalms 141:10). As we grow in our understanding of Mind's control and Love's care, and as we commit to increased watchfulness and consecration to good, we can add to the Psalmist's prediction this truth from Proverbs: "Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird" (Proverbs 1:17). God watches over the innocent, the just, and all those who are working to do His will.