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Is cyber-warfare here?
Lights could be turned off, streets turned to gridlock by targeting traffic light control systems, satellites blinded and warships left dead in the water…
September 26, 2010 12:12 by Reuters
ONLINE ARMS RACE?
What most experts do agree is that the increased reliance on computer systems for essential national infrastructure means such attacks are increasingly damaging.
Lights could be turned off, streets turned to gridlock by targeting traffic light control systems, satellites blinded and warships left dead in the water.
Partly as a result, cyber warfare is seen as a particularly appealing option for countries that remain far outmatched by the conventional military might of the U.S.
North Korea is seen as having particular advantages in any cyber confrontation — its own national computer infrastructure is so outdated that there would be little if anything for South Korea or U.S. cyber warfare experts to counter-attack against.
China’s “great firewall”, usually associated with censorship, is also believed to offer some defence against cyber attacks.
In his 2010 book “Cyber War”, former White House cybersecurity expert Richard Clarke sketches out a nightmare scenario in which online attacks bring the U.S. to a standstill — and the experts can’t even tell which country attacked them.
He says he believes the United States, China and others are already hacking into each other’s critical national systems, burying “logic bombs” and other attack software in the event they are needed — something he compares to the arms race and mechanisation that preceded World War One.
“Invisibly, military units from over a score of nations are moving into a new battle space,” he writes. “Because the units are unseen, parliaments and publics have not noticed the movement of these forces… With attention divided elsewhere, we may be laying the groundwork for cyber war.”
Even if such a doomsday scenario never unfolds, most experts believe hacking is already taking its place alongside air strikes and special forces as tools for limited military activity.