Cyberwar? I Hardly Know Her!


go-go gadget thunderbolt! and leafy thing!

A great takedown of cyberwar fear-mongering, and the myth that government can protect us from, well, anything online.

"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.

Think about how hard we work, and what rights we trample on, just to keep a few (morally reprehensible, seriously foul) kiddie porn snaps offline. Think we can keep out cyber-criminals without serious costs? Note: the costs of "militarizing the Internet" are the same whether or not the cyber criminals/terrorists/warriors are real.

I've bitched about the use of the outdated prefix "cyber" by governments before. And more on the topic of cyberwar from Brian Doherty.

Via Jim Harper.

NEXT: Who's Your Daddy? Or Your Other Daddy? Or Your Mommy?

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  1. Prefix? “Cyber” is a verb to me.

    1. I pity the CSI agent that gets the honor of dusting your keyboard, screen and iPhone for prints.

    2. Let’s keep “cyber.” It’s a perfectly good prefix.

      1. I agree, let’s cyber!

  2. They should change their name to “The Department of Electrics”.

  3. I swear I guy I know drew that exact same logo for his D&D character coat-of-arms.

    And he did get kicked out of the Air Force.

    1. One of the artists I went to college with did an image like that only the text read “Fist Fuck”.

      1. his club?

  4. I’ll have to see if I can find my patch but I’m pretty sure that the mailed fist is the emblem of SAC.

    … Hobbit

    1. Why search at home when I can search the Intertubes?

      … Hobbit

  5. Hmm, I think perhaps he should look a little harder.

    Peruse the DEFCON archives for any talks given by high-ranking military officials, government officials, or people from DARPA. Those talks might change your mind. As an aside, the founder of that conference works for the DHS now.

    In my many years of attending that conference, I’ve seen talks regarding issues ranging from an all-out attack on the Estonian government by the Russians, a flaw discovered in Cisco’s IOS that could undetectably compromise basically every router on the internet and had to be selectively released to governments prior to public disclosure, the Great Firewall of China, top-level DNS attacks from within China, and talks from Air Force security personnel talking about area-of-effect cell phone jamming to prevent roadside bombs in Iraq.

    I especially remember a talk from an Assistant Secretary of Defense and former CIO of the military talking about the widespread integration of networked systems with military combat.

    I’m sure there are dozens more talks that I was not present for that involve actual warfare by governments upon governments and people dying.

  6. A whole MAJCOM to protect our cyber shores – and they couldn’t stop a bored French guy from hacking Skippy’s Twitter account.

    Random dude does make some digital apocalypse points – there is some potentially spooky shit happening on the innertoobs. Not that there isn’t good reason to keep a weather eye on the online capabilites of the state for mischief. As long as they’re focusing on external, truly malicious stuff – have at it, guys. But the potential for Nixonian style abuses do exist.

  7. Went and read the article. Not much of a takedown, IMO. The ususal trope of many with White House positions – we need more discussions with our buddies in Congress and academia – where we can get our expenses picked up by the taxpayers and arrange to pass out lucrative study contracts to our friends to produce white papers that will go unread.

    There have been attacks by organized groups supporting a particular national government against internet assets in other countries. The Estonian attack mentioned above for one. IIRC, a similar attack was conducted against Georgian assets and there have been what appear to be probes and dry runs against US assets originating in China. We need to study what’s being done by the black hat hackers, criminal gangs, botnet operators, etc. to be able to defend against them.

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