Sunday, March 11, 2012

Debunking Cyber Warfare and Other Illicit Derring Do

Accusations of evil doers lurking in cyber space seem to fall into the following categories.

(1) Some warn of frightening cyber attacks in order to sell their network security expertise.
(2) Some describe lurid tales of evil doing in cyber space to sell books, fiction or not.
(3) Some attributes acts of cyber sabotage to other nations in order to demonize them, most often targeted being China and Russia.
(4) Of course, threat of cyberwar is another way to justifying budget allocation from the federal government to the defense industry.

Along comes in latest issue of Foreign Policy an article that should calm matters down and lower the scare meter by a notch or two. Below are some excerpts from the piece written by Thomas Rid, ridding us of some of the amorphous fears.

Cyberwar is still more hype than hazard. ...act of war has to be potentially violent, has to be purposeful and has to be political. So far we have not seen any that meet those criteria.

In his 2010 book, "Cyber War," former White House counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke invokes the specter of nationwide power blackouts, planes falling out to the sky, trains derailing, refineries burning, pipelines exploring, poisonous gas clouds wafting, and satellites spinning out of orbit. The only tangible result so far is the establishment of the U.S. Cyber Command in 2010 with an annual budget exceeding $3 billion.

Development of a cyber weapon would require a lot of resources. The weapon has to be target specific in order to be effective. Once used defense measures would be put in place and the weapon would lose its potency. In other words, the cost effectiveness of such a one-shot weapon is problematic and doubtful.

While Rid's article provides a balancing perspective, it will not deter others to scare monger.

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