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Jan 17, 2011


I was asked to comment on the OECD report today because of that "cyberwar is impossible" tone. I found this in the 121 page report:

"A pure cyberwar, that is one fought solely with cyber-weapons, is unlikely. On the other hand in nearly all future wars as well as the skirmishes that precede them policymakers must expect the use of cyberweaponry as a disrupter or force multiplier, deployed in conjunction with more
conventional kinetic weaponry. Cyberweaponry of many degrees of force will also be increasingly deployed and with increasing effect by ideological activists of all persuasions and interests."

Not much to disagree with there!


I haven't had time to come up with a fully developed, critique proof classification of my own, but I would argue that the national risk from cyber-espionage has been vastly under-hyped. Who needs to blow up our remaining factories with kinetic weapons if they can just steal our intellectual property and compete them out of existence? It's cheaper and easier, less detectable, and maybe already a fait-accomplis, but the result is the same. We lose real world options and they gain them, solid steps toward loss of economic sov, and (as an afterthought) physical sov, when we're too weak to care any longer.

Also, now that the StuxNet (cyber+kinetic) genii is out of the bottle, its re-use is coming soon.

Easy enough to figure; if you call it cyberwar, well, that implies sovereign states, intentional policy, attempts to interfere with the functioning of foreign governments, all the kinds of things that imply an armed response.

If it's just cyberweapons, well, anyone can use a weapon, right? That Hamas is launching Katyushas into Israel doesn't mean that Israel should send bombers to Moscow.

I'll also point out that you don't need hackers to steal IP. The naivete of many businessmen would be charming if it weren't so damaging. My uncle talked about how easy it was to work with Chinese factories. I asked him how he was sure that they weren't stealing his designs and selling cheap knock-offs to the Chinese market. "Oh, we signed a contract saying they wouldn't do that!" :sigh:

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