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Afterbytes: Thoughts on "Cyber Warfare"

The story:

US and Russia Discussing Cyber Warfare and Cyber Security

Officials from the US and Russia are meeting to discuss improving Internet security and establishing cyber warfare policy. The Russians would like to see a cyber warfare disarmament treaty between the two countries. The talks are a step forward for the US, as the previous administration refused to engage in cyber warfare discussions with Russia.

Date: December 13 & 14, 2009

Sources: In Shift, U.S. Talks to Russia on Internet Security & U.S. and Russian officials talk cyberissues

I see this as a positive step toward acknowledging that "cyberwarfare" between superpowers is stupid, unless it's done in the context of full-on conflict. We'd all rather avoid that, thank you!!

So what's really happening, here? It seems like the big boys have realized that the real problem (and opportunity) remains espionage and that, hopefully, they will be focusing their efforts there instead. If you've got a military like the US or Russia and are attacking some smaller nation, you really don't need to shut off their access to World of Warcraft, first - you're going to win, anyway. And, if superpowers used tricks like that against each other, it would only telegraph an intent to begin broader operations. As I've said elsewhere: cyberwar is stupid.

Of course, we'll still see tons of things reported as "cyberwar" that aren't. Everytime some government agency gets spammed, or someone gets DDOS'd, cyberwar proponents will run up the "cyberwar" flag until the dust settles and it's discovered that the attacking nation's name was Billy and he's 21 and lives in his mom's basement and hasn't got a second life, let alone a first one. If you recall last month, in newsbites, there was an article about "cyberwar" operations in counter insurgency - an article which went on to describe some perfectly reasonable battlefield intelligence operations involving computers and telephony. Hardly "cyberwar" - just business as usual, and a job well done.

The "cyberwar" budget grab, in other words, will continue. But still no cyberwar. Message to the community-at-large: you can stop calling it "cyber-"whatever just because it somewhere, somehow, went through a microprocessor.

Excuse me, I smell smoke coming from my cybertoaster. My cybercoffee machine is beeping, too. Time for cyberlunch.