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Risk

1/20/2009
07:16 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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U.S. To Sharpen Cyber-Weaponry

Last month, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency warned that the United States is losing the battle to protect cyberspace. This is an arms race we can't afford to lose.

Last month, the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Commission on Cybersecurity for the 44th Presidency warned that the United States is losing the battle to protect cyberspace. This is an arms race we can't afford to lose.As Thomas Claburn quotes from the CSIS report in this story from last month:

The CSIS report, "Securing Cyberspace for the 44th Presidency," states that cybersecurity "is a strategic issue on par with weapons of mass destruction and global jihad" and that it "can no longer be relegated to information technology offices and chief information officers."

Now, consider this quote from a recent story in Aviation Week:

"It's not about putting iron on targets anymore; it's about fighting the networks," says a U.S. EW specialist and senior technology officer.

It's an interesting quote, but it's not really accurate. War is now about putting iron on targets and fighting the networks. You need to win on both fronts.

Robert Harward, the deputy commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, says now is the time to push electronic weaponry:

"Everybody recognizes that electronic fires [such as jamming, directed energy, and cyberwar] is a capability that ought to be bought, maintained, and developed," says Harward. "It's part of the technology advantage that we have right now, and our ability to expand it will pay dividends. We're looking at it in the experimentation phase and how we might move forward."

We already have strong suspicions that other nations, such as Iran, are working to develop some type of electromagnetic pulse bombs designed to cripple any society heavily dependent on electronics. We covered their threat to the United States last year in this blog.

The problem I have with the bulk of the discussion regarding cyberwarfare coming from our leaders is that most of it is focused on offensive weaponry. Well, cyberattacks are a low-cost operation with the potential for very high impact, which makes cyberwar the ideal tactic to be used against any industrialized nation. That's why I think it would be wise if we spent a good part of the discussion on building more robust cyberdefenses so we can ensure that our grid and critical infrastructures are sustainable under attack.

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