Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Pentagon: Cyber Attacks Can Count as Act of War - FoxNews.com
Cyberwarfare units were just standing up as I was retiring in 2007. The question always seemed to be was "cyber" a war in the same way as tanks and bombs? In one sense, absolutely as the Stuxnet showed you can attack a country's entire power grid and cripple their economy. Through cyber you can shutdown the cooling systems of a nuclear power plant creating a Chernobyl or Fukushima scenario via proxy. If "cyber" can be a war then what response is justified? Even a cyber counter attack against the host nation may be too much. For example, what if the hacker resides in France but his allegiance is to Al Qaeda?
Now apparently the Pentagon wants to do what it does best; blow stuff up and kill people in retaliation for cyber attacks. The first problem is what do you bomb? If they attack our nuclear power plants but have none of their own, do go after their crops? Let's pretend the terrorist is a member of the Islamic Brotherhood and is from Egypt. He is living in Indonesia and launches his attack from there using a code designed in part by Iran. The answer to the question is not clear cut and can rapidly lead to escalation. It also means we may have to rethink the traditional terms like "enemy" and realize a few hackers could successfully attack a whole country.