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AND NOW, MR BOND...,
This review is from: Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It (Hardcover)
"And now, Mr. Bond, let me explain my diabolical plan to bring your puny civilization to its knees. First, I am going to immobilize the absurdly net centric US military machine. Next, and this is ridiculously simple, I will shut down your entire power grid, telecommunications services and air traffic control. Next I will erase all financial records in your banking system and stock exchanges wiping out the net worth of millions of people. Finally, and this is my favorite part, I will close down Wal-Mart's entire supply chain management system. Ha, ha, ha etc."
As Richard Clarke, former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-Terrorism, and Robert Knake, a scholar in the field of security matters - two authors who clearly know what they are talking about - point out in "Cyber War," this Bond villain fantasy is not so far fetched. Some thirty nations have advanced cyber warfare capabilities, and portions are within plausible reach of criminal and terrorist organizations.
There have already been incidences: Chinese logic bombs have been discovered throughout the US grid; Israel immobilized Syria's advanced, Russian supplied, air defenses in order to clear the way for its surprisingly ill-publicized bombing raid on that country's North Korean sponsored nuclear facility; the US infiltrated sabotaged chips into technology stolen by Russia, resulting in a massive pipeline explosion; Russia, or per the Russian government's version, groups of civilian patriots, shut down Estonia's and later Georgia's internet systems at times of tension between their countries; someone closed down part of Brazil's power system; China (again) paralyzed several large US web players through a "denial of service" bombardment following the accidental US bombing of its Belgrade embassy in 1999; even North Korea has had a respectable stab at it. Numerous reports and tests have highlighted the west's acute vulnerability to cyber attack.
"Cyber War" is exceptionally well informed. It is intelligently written but still an accessible read, leavened by wry insider's sense of humor. The authors' goal is to highlight western vulnerability and inspire the powers that be to do something about it.
To be sure, The USA is generally believed to possess the world's most advanced cyber warfare capability. But, the authors convincingly argue, this is not enough. Other nations - notably China and Russia - have much stronger defensive capability. Furthermore, there is an asymmetry of vulnerability since the US economy, society and military are much more web dependent than those of potential enemies and thus conventional theories of deterrence may not apply. And, if an attack happens, it may be difficult to attribute responsibility, as the laying of false trails is an integral part of this form of warfare.
The authors examine the many obstacles to resolving this: constitutional, political, legal, bureaucratic and special interest as well as technological. Nonetheless, they prescribe a series of actions, both domestic and international, which should be taken urgently to reduce the risks that a cyber war could break out and lead to either untold damage or a dramatic escalation of "kinetic" or real war. It is a message that should be taken seriously. This is a clear and present danger.