Raytheon could have saved the Death Star, and they want you to know about it. This morning, the defense contractor posted an elaborate faux-feature describing how basic cybersecurity failings allowed the Rebels to steal the plans to the Death Star, as portrayed in Rogue One.
To be clear: a real defense contractor with real contracts across the globe has thoughts on how it would have stopped the theft of plans for a starship that does not exist, to assist the antagonists in a popular work of fiction.
“A strong insider-threat program and a next-generation firewall could have rendered all the Rebels' efforts pointless,” a company representative says in the piece.
It’s all half-joke, half-PR stunt, but the end result is puzzling, and, if we’re going to dig into the fiction, incorrect. It puts aside questions of how this plan would defend against the Rebels’ basic tactic of grabbing a hard drive and running away. Even stranger is the message: if only the Empire had hired Raytheon! So many more civilizations could have been obliterated for their disobedience!
Just to be painfully straightforward: the joke here is that the task of protecting the Death Star (used by an oppressive government to destroy rebellious planets) is very similar to the current business Raytheon conducts protecting government agencies and corporations from cyberattack.
Raytheon is one of the largest defense contractors in the world. They make a lot of terrifying stuff, including social-media surveillance systems and long-range drone-destroying energy beams. In 2010, they built Los Angeles County Jail a literal pain ray, designed to dissuade prisoners from rioting by microwaving their skin.
They also invented the microwave oven, so points for that.
Arguably their most successful product, Raytheon’s surface-to-air Stinger missile has been a poster child for arms proliferation, manufactured under license in Germany and Turkey. Often provided by the US as military aid, the weapons have been used in civil wars in Chechnya, Angola, and Sri Lanka, as well as most recently in Syria. The company’s larger Tomahawk missile served as a predecessor to the contemporary Predator drone, used extensively in the first Gulf War and in one-off strikes from Somalia to Libya.
All of which is to say, if you buy into the Empire as a stand-in for American imperial power (as Lucas basically says in his biography), then Raytheon is right there polishing the stormtrooper helmets. So perhaps this isn’t a joke, but a bit of self-aware transparency.