Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We are not at cyberwar

Alarmist warnings about devastating "cyberwars" seem to have reached a new peak. Former National Security Agency director Mike McConnell recently wrote:
The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing… The cyber-war mirrors the nuclear challenge in terms of the potential economic and psychological effects. So, should our strategy be deterrence or preemption? The answer: both.

Equating distributed denial of service attacks with nuclear missiles would be laughable were it not so dangerous, particularly since McConnell proposes in response that the Internet be re-engineered to remove any last vestiges of privacy. (Glenn Greenwald has pointed out McConnell's extreme conflict of interest).

Fortunately, for now, wiser voices are prevailing within the US government. President Obama's cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt told Wired News: “There is no cyberwar. I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept."

I tried to make my own contribution to sanity at a conference yesterday in London on this subject:

I was pleased to hear widespread agreement with Schmidt's position from the audience.

UPDATE: Tim Stevens shares his thoughts on the conference.

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