01 April 2014
We have entered a period of cybered conflict. For militaries, governments and private firms mastering the demands of cybered conflict, it will be a long and painful process requiring strong cyber defences and organisational resilience.
CYBER WAR is not coming, but cybered conflict is. For decades we have been warned of the possibility of digital Pearl Harbours where network attacks lead to cascading failures of critical military, public and private systems. Recently, there has been a backlash; contrarians now argue that cyber war not only hasn’t occurred but is highly unlikely. They point to the absence of cyber “battle deaths” to date and the immense difficulty of using cyber weapons for political and military purposes.
Botnets and malware can disrupt service and lead to lost data, but these are expensive nuisances rather than acts of war. Truly dangerous attacks, targeting, for example, the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems of military facilities or public utilities, while potentially destructive, require exquisite intelligence and dedicated teams of hackers. These are capacities beyond the means of most nation-states, much less terrorists or common criminals.
… Peter Dombrowski, a professor in Strategic Research at the US Naval War College, was until recently a Visiting Research Fellow with the Military Transformations Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University. This commentary draws from an earlier article he co-authored with Chris Demchak in the Naval War College Review.
IDSS / RSIS / Online
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