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Will World War III be fought in cyberspace? October 23, 2009

Posted by jonathanpenn in cyberwar/CIP.
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So warns Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecommunication Union.

Now, as far as World War 3’s go, isn’t that a good thing? Crippling the IT infrastructure would certainly be devastating, but it’s no nuke.

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1. Sven Türpe - October 23, 2009

It might be a good thing, but I’m afraid this is the exact reason why we’ll never see a plain cyber war. War is essentially mutual a denial of service attack between two or more parties. A party loses a war by resource depletion beyond certain limits, the limits depending on a wide range of parameters. A cyber war effectively depletes only one resource: international connectivity. A cyber war would thus achieve roughly the same as a strong embargo, but not more. I cannot imagine a scenario in which this would be sufficient to make a nation surrender. Which leaves the opponents the choice between stopping the war without winning it or moving from cyberwar to more traditional ways of enforcing a policy.

2. jonathanpenn - October 23, 2009

Perhaps it is more accurate to say that WW3 will be fought “partly” in cyberspace. And in that context, cyberwar does more than just cut us off from the Internet: it impedes our ability to detect and coordinate our response to more conventional threats. An effective cyberattack is a force multiplier, making other attacks more damaging.

3. Sven Türpe - October 24, 2009

I don’t think so. Attacks coming from inside a nation aren’t cyber war, they are cyber crime. Attacks coming from outside can be suppressed by disconnecting a nation’s networks from the Internet. So effectively an aggressor can’t enforce anything beyond this disconnect without physically crossing borders.


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