Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

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Will cyberattacks lead to bomb-and-bullets war?

Until now, the combination of cyber and war sparked notions of virtual armies slamming away at each other in cyberspace, a nasty confrontation online but relatively harmless for regular folks.

Perhaps that’s changing. According to an Agence France-Presse story out of Davos, Switzerland, at least, the U.S. seems closer to seeing a cyberattack as the basis for a declaration of traditional war.

The AFP quotes Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as saying that prospect is now being considered:

If someone bombed the electric grid in our country and we saw the bombers coming in it would clearly be an act of war. ... If that same country uses sophisticated computers to knock out our electricity grid, I definitely think we are getting closer to saying it is an act of war.

Some people are trying to get ahead of this scenario. At the same meeting, the head of the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union proposed a “first strike” treaty through which signatories would agree not to be the first to launch a cyberattack. A cyber war, Hamadoun Toure said, would be catastrophic.

Is it not a little ironic that, just as the U.S. and Russia seem near to a new treaty that would significantly decrease the threat of nuclear war, we may be edging closer to war caused by virtual phantoms?

Maybe we need a new Doomsday Clock.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Feb 03, 2010 at 7:27 PM

Reader Comments

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 Concerned Citizen

Will cyber attacks lead to bomb-and-bullets war? Nice 'teaser' to draw in inquisitive readers...perhaps some references would add some credibility! Our enemy already hacked the feed from a predator drone to see where it was and what it was looking at (http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-10417247-83.html). Price? $30.00. And if they were successful (only once!) in accessing controls to fire armament...Priceless! What about hacking a NavSat and dropping supplies to a coordinate where the enemy is when your troops desperately need them? These are only two ‘war related’ abilities…
Now think about destroying your enemies infrastructure by opening flood gates, changing signals on railroads to make trains collide, shut down the traffic signal lights in major cities, etc….you get the idea, right? Perhaps the title might be better suited to state something along the lines “Cyberwar Score: America – 2, Enemies – One Billion $ and counting!”
Cyber security should rest with everyone that owns/uses a computer (AV software, firewalls, etc.), not JUST the government!

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 RayW

China gets some information, sends a note with details to Obama in Iraq, who sends the information to Mahmoud in Scandinavia who implements it from a cyber cafe using a zombie computer in a Venezuela government office. So who is the one we bomb, shoot, sanction, etc? Then there is the use of the net social sites and web pages to 'prove' things and the public who calls for actions has no clue as to if what is posted is in reality the facts, or a well woven story with planted "proof" on other sites (we have seen that already in the USA if what some folks say is true). Misdirection has been used in the past with rumor mongering, but now too many folks think that digital signatures are gospel, web sites are true, email chains are fact, but forget how easy they are to forge. No, I do not have a solution, only that the powers that be seem to be insisting on making it easy to do. SO, the answer to the qestion is YES. If not by the USA, then by some other country that is guided by a well planned 'play' into doing something that either is for national pride or assumed self defense.

Thu, Feb 4, 2010

Folks have a misconception of what "going to war" means. It is not necessarily deploying US troops. An economic embargo is a way of conducting war on an adversary.

Thu, Feb 4, 2010

Folks have a misconception of what "going to war" means. It is not necessarily deploying US troops. An economic embargo is a way of conducting war on an adversary.

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