Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Thomas Rid: Cyberwar Isn't War Until Until Someone Dies

Many a mother has warned roughhousing children that “it’s all fun and games until somebody loses an eye.” On Monday, four cybersecurity experts (two Americans and two Brits) agreed that the online attacks we’ve seen so far are all either espionage or sabotage: It doesn’t count as war until somebody dies.

We have not yet seen a real cyberwar, they agreed, and tossing the word around can misguide billion-dollar decisions and warp cybersecurity policy. Where they disagreed, however, was how likely we are to see a lethal cyberwar in the future.

“We’re going to look back at the days when no one had died from this stuff [as] the halcyon days, when all you had to worry about was credit card theft or somebody putting a picture of their butt on your website,” said Jason Healey, a former Air Force officer and White House cybersecurity aide now at the Atlantic Council, speaking yesterday at the Brookings Institution.

“We’re going to have ‘cyberwar’ when there’s dead people,” Healey told me afterward. “Of course we’re not at cyber war [today]. We’ve never had anyone that’s died from this and you can’t go around using terms like ‘war’.”

I think he's being naive and making some serious assumptions...

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