Is Talk of a ‘Cyber War’ Deliberately Overstated?
Ever since the mid-1990s, technology experts and enthusiasts have taken great pride in telling us that in the future, wars will not be fought on a traditional battlefield, but will instead take place over computer networks and servers. A so-called, full-scale “cyber war” has not yet broken out, however the large number of high-profile hacking cases that have occurred already this year have once again brought the question to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
It is such an issue that everyone is talking about it, from respected global news outlets, to the guy who serves you your coffee in Starbucks every morning, and even President Obama mentioned it in his State of the Union address, as well as on subsequent occasions.
What is Cyber War?
Defining exactly what a Cyber War is causes much debate in itself. One could quite easily argue that all of the hacks that we have seen in recent weeks are ‘acts of war,’ yet they are not defined as such by government authorities.
It seems that Cyber War would only be ‘declared’ when a central system is attacked. For example, when the global financial system is brought to its knees by hackers (in fairness, it took mere bankers to do it in 2008), or when air traffic control systems are taken offline, and similar acts, are likely to been as bringing us into an era of Cyber War.
At the same time, it is very easy for government agencies and authorities around the world to come up with these worst-case scenarios. What they don’t tell us is how much protection such services have, and how vulnerable they are to attack. Given that physical acts of terrorism, in terms of suicide bombs and similar attacks, have been almost eradicated in the Western world, surely if something like the events mentioned above was going to happen, it would have done by now. Again, us mere mortals aren’t told the UN’s most confidential information, so we aren’t to know if that is the case.
Is It Hypocritical?
President Obama and other Western leaders might talk about acts of Cyber War, but are we really expected to believe that his administration and others aren’t hacking into computer systems in Iran and North Korea to try and bring nuclear development programs crashing down?
Who appoints themselves as the ‘world police’ will forever be a controversial topic, but talking about us needing to protect ourselves while attacking others is nothing more than simple hypocrisy.
Is a full-scale Cyber War possible? The reality is probably not, as it is impossible that there are not various early warning systems and contingencies in place to protect certain things in the event of attempted hacks.
However, talking about the dangers of it is a great way for governments to implement higher levels internet censorship and regulations governing what we can and cannot do, or more to the point, what they can see us do. Some US officials even admitted that they deliberately present the worst case scenario as a scaremongering exercise, so that legislation can be passed quicker.
Internet security is a hot topic, and will be for most of the decade, but Cyber War? No.