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Relax, a Cyber War May Never Happen

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?

  • shloader
    So long as November 5th happens the way Anonymous says it will I'm all for a little digital bloodshed.
  • killerclick
    Seeing how Mossad has been killing Iranian nuclear scientists on the street, I don't even know why they bothered with a virus.
  • stereopsis
    Irrespective of how fatalities are caused, events that cause them are an act of war.
  • stereopsis
    Just in: government sponsored espionage with MIT radar...
  • CTT
    Cyber warfare is real, on going, and state sponsored. States just don't attention whore like hacker groups do.
  • serendipiti
    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...
  • zodiacfml
    A nation losing Facebook is an act of war.
  • amstech
    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.
  • @amstech
    because security sensitive highly classified information is held online with no backup strategy what so ever.........

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

    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
  • Benihana
    Hmm... Sounds like a cyber-war is already on the horizon and this is to pre-emtively convince us otherwise.