How Can We Be at Cyberwar if We Don’t Know What It Is?

by on March 23, 2010 · 3 comments

Brilliant column from William Jackson on GCN.com debunking “cyberwar”:

“The United States is fighting a cyberwar today and we are losing it,” former National Security Agency chief and national intelligence director Mike McConnell wrote in a recent op-ed column in the Washington Post. “It’s that simple.”

It is neither simple nor true. Failure to distinguish between real acts of war and other malicious behavior not only increases the risks of war, but also distracts us from more immediate threats such as online crime.

The habit of threat inflation is harmful to the country. Jackson’s welcome take on “cyber” threats earns an accolade I rarely give out: Read the whole thing.

Update: Tim Stevens, a researcher in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London, has—ahem—attacked “cyberwar” rhetoric multiple times. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) Kudos, Tim.

  • MikeRT

    Most of the threats have not actually changed. For example, China is still actively using Cold War techniques–quite successfully–to steal our military and industrial secrets. This happens because the US government won't treat espionage that it can actually handle (if it chooses to do so) like a serious crime. They draw attention to the fact that the PRC routinely pwn3s unclassified federal networks because that is a great diversion from the fact that the federal government is not even seriously trying to stop the low-tech, boots-on-the-ground espionage war being waged by China against the West and our East Asian allies.

  • MikeRT

    Most of the threats have not actually changed. For example, China is still actively using Cold War techniques–quite successfully–to steal our military and industrial secrets. This happens because the US government won't treat espionage that it can actually handle (if it chooses to do so) like a serious crime. They draw attention to the fact that the PRC routinely pwn3s unclassified federal networks because that is a great diversion from the fact that the federal government is not even seriously trying to stop the low-tech, boots-on-the-ground espionage war being waged by China against the West and our East Asian allies.

    Here is an example of what I mean about China. The real threat has not changed.

  • Pingback: Cyberwar? I Hardly Know Her! - Hit & Run : Reason.com

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