Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Relax, a Cyber War May Never Happen

By - Source: King's College | B 24 comments

Huh? Haven't we been living in a sort-of cyber war already in which nations spy on each other and develop more and more sophisticated tools designed for electronic attacks?

Haven't we lived in a cyber war in which an invisible enemy is targeting our digital lives via an increasingly complex net of computing devices?

Perhaps, but Thomas Rid from London's King's College believes that our current environment does not reflect a war scenario in its traditional meaning. In the end, his claim comes down to the definition of war: According to Rid, the phrase of "cyber warfare" implies a "potentially lethal, instrumental and political act of force." However, there has not been a cyber attack to could be described as physical force. "Politically motivated cyber attacks are simply a more sophisticated version of activities that have always occurred within warfare: Sabotage, espionage and subversion," Rid said.

Rid even referred to very sophisticated tools such as the Stuxnet worm that reportedly took out more than a thousand Iranian centrifuges and affected the country's nuclear activities. However, Stuxnet would still qualify as sabotage and not as warfare, according to Rid, who specializes in cyber security research.

The question appears to be whether the definition of "warfare" has to be slightly adjusted in the digital age or not. Would we call and act that indirectly causes fatalities, such as an attack on a nation's critical infrastructure, an act of war?

Display 24 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    shloader , October 19, 2011 10:06 AM
    So long as November 5th happens the way Anonymous says it will I'm all for a little digital bloodshed.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    shloader , October 19, 2011 10:06 AM
    So long as November 5th happens the way Anonymous says it will I'm all for a little digital bloodshed.
  • 7 Hide
    killerclick , October 19, 2011 10:07 AM
    Seeing how Mossad has been killing Iranian nuclear scientists on the street, I don't even know why they bothered with a virus.
  • 1 Hide
    stereopsis , October 19, 2011 10:34 AM
    Irrespective of how fatalities are caused, events that cause them are an act of war.
  • 4 Hide
    stereopsis , October 19, 2011 10:35 AM
    Just in: government sponsored espionage with MIT radar...
  • 1 Hide
    CTT , October 19, 2011 12:20 PM
    Cyber warfare is real, on going, and state sponsored. States just don't attention whore like hacker groups do.
  • -3 Hide
    serendipiti , October 19, 2011 12:52 PM
    I suppose war is a term that depends on the target (a whole country with no distinction) and the motivations. Just like Biological, chemical, nuclear wars, cyber war is another kind of war. Getting too orthodox on semantics with cyber-war it makes little sense, after all, crashing 2 planes (terrorism) is an act of war...
  • -4 Hide
    zodiacfml , October 19, 2011 1:56 PM
    A nation losing Facebook is an act of war.
  • 0 Hide
    amstech , October 19, 2011 2:29 PM
    It depends on what your knowledge level of IT is.
    You can design software to damage hardware and case drives holding high-level classified and security based information to be destroyed.

    I remember a couple years ago in a class at RIT, there was a malware program that would make drives spin faster at certain times, causing abnormal mount of heat and ruining the platters.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2011 2:50 PM
    @amstech
    because security sensitive highly classified information is held online with no backup strategy what so ever.........

    @CTT
    i believe if state sponsored hacking was taking place what better smokescreen then to use those "attention seeking hacker whores"

    @killerclick
    it takes years to covertly acquire the materials and then construct a weapons grade centrifuge, whereas it only takes a large sum of money to acquire scientist with the know how to utilize said centrifuge, killing a scientist will sent them back a few months, damaging and destroying the centrifuge can set them back years, now if this was not a covert nuclear program that would be a complete different kettle of fish
  • 1 Hide
    Benihana , October 19, 2011 3:51 PM
    Hmm... Sounds like a cyber-war is already on the horizon and this is to pre-emtively convince us otherwise.
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 19, 2011 4:09 PM
    "May" never happen
    ...
    Phew, that's put our minds at rest, now I can relax

    /not
  • 2 Hide
    requiemsallure , October 19, 2011 4:42 PM
    this isn't news! this is an opinion of some college kid speculating definitions on new terms and placing too much faith in old terms first of all things change, definitions change... get with the times... second of all this is no blog, last i checked this is suppose to be a news article, so why is something like this even being posted?

    and lastly another reason why this shouldn't have been posted is due to the fact that information can always be potentially leathal. lack of information can be too... you also have to remember that leathality also doesn't have to be in regaurds to a person, or even a living thing i.e. (faction, nation, country...)
  • 0 Hide
    digitalgriffin , October 19, 2011 5:54 PM
    Lets see him claim the same thing when a Chinese Hacker shuts down the power grid, or worse, damages a nuclear reactor so that it can't get cooling water and goes int meltdown mode.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2011 6:50 PM
    @digitalgriffin

    because someone thought it was a smart idea to let you control nuclear reactors from the internet.......
  • -1 Hide
    BlackHawk91 , October 19, 2011 7:00 PM
    Meanwhile SIRI is gathering everyone's info.
  • 1 Hide
    istank , October 19, 2011 8:41 PM
    You want lethal? Disable all traffic signals in New York city during rush hour.
  • -1 Hide
    jsc , October 19, 2011 10:00 PM
    Quote:
    The question appears to be whether the definition of "warfare" has to be slightly adjusted in the digital age or not.

    No.
    Quote:
    Would we call and act that indirectly causes fatalities, such as an attack on a nation's critical infrastructure, an act of war?

    Yes.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 19, 2011 11:41 PM
    Make no mistake, countries, companies, et al. are enduring a cyber war today. Mr. Rid can "believe" what he likes in the UK. There is no question in the US; the Pentagon has already established that "computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force." No need to alter definitions... and YES an attack on a nations' critical infrastructure, fatalities or not is an act of war.

    Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304563104576355623135782718.html
  • 0 Hide
    cybersans , October 20, 2011 1:56 AM
    for those who watched die hard 4.0, this kind of "cyber war" MAY possibly happen ;) 
    but of course, people need tragedy to be happened first, to make them prepared.
  • 0 Hide
    cybersans , October 20, 2011 1:57 AM
    for those who watched die hard 4.0, this kind of "cyber war" MAY possibly happen ;) 
    but of course, people need tragedy to be happened first, to make them prepared.
Display more comments