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 Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Reuters recently reports on cyber warfare, from the Cold War Soviet oil pipeline explosion to the current information security situation. "The pipeline explosion was probably the first major salvo in what has since become known as cyber warfare. The incident has been cropping up in increasingly urgent discussions in the U.S. on how to cope with attacks on military and civilian computer networks and control systems - and how and when to strike back. Air traffic control, power plants, Wall Street trading systems, banks, traffic lights and emergency responder communications could all be targets of attacks that could bring the U.S. to its knees."

According to Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell's testimony to a Senate committee, "[the US] information infrastructure - including the Internet, telecommunications networks, computer systems and embedded processors and controllers in critical industries - increasingly is being targeted... by a growing array of state and non-state adversaries." The Pentagon adds that it detects three million attempts to infiltrate its computer networks every day. On a report of the US Government Accountability Office, an audit of 24 government agencies, including Defense and Homeland Security, had shown that "poor information security is a widespread problem with potentially devastating consequences" pertaining to the inevitable involvement of civilians with private companies owning more than 80 percent of the infrastructure.

"Unlike traditional defense categories (i.e. land, sea and air), the military capabilities required to respond to an attack on U.S. infrastructure will necessarily involve infrastructure owned and operated by the private sector," according to Jody R. Westby, CEO of Global Cyber Risk and a champion of better public-private coordination to cope with cyber attacks.

The article further discusses the importance of public-private coordination and the power of botnets in this warfare. A scenario of the damage extent and how the cyber warfare may unfold was also drawn from an interview with Westby.

Read the full article here.