At Cyberwar or Not at Cyberwar, That is the Question

Well, it seems that both government experts and even technical magazine authors can’t come to an agreement on this one. Are we at Cyberwar or Not? Recently, Mike McConnell (former Director of National Intelligence) claimed that “the United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.” He was countered by the nations new Cyber Security Czar who said flatly, “there is no cyberwar.”

So who are we to believe? Wired magazine chirped in and said, “The biggest threat to the open internet is not Chinese government hackers or greedy anti-net-neutrality ISPs, it’s Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence.” Okay, I guess it’s clear which side they are on, but the question still stands.

I think Amit Yoran the Chief Executive Officer of NetWitness Corporation and a commissioner of the CSIS Commission on Cyber Security advising the 44th Presidency sums it up the best. In his article, Cyberwar Or Not Cyberwar? And Why That Is The Question, he states:

Closely aligned with the US Department of Defense and US government’s “traditional” definitions of the term, I suggest that cyberwar is conducting warfare by cyber means, which includes (among other things) both cyber attack and cyber exploitation.  In simple terms cyber attacks focus on the disruption or destruction of information, information systems or information infrastructure and to deny their availability to the system owners or legitimate users.  Cyber exploitation refers to the compromise of these targets without their destruction or disruption, but rather through covert means, for the purposes of accessing information or modifying it or preparing such access for future use in exploitation or attack.

Based on the terminology provided above, there can be no question that governments’ systems and modern economies are under large scale cyber exploitation and therefore at a state of “cyberwar”. 

I have to agree with Amit on this one. With the cyber aggression that we are seeing from foreign nations, we are in fact at cyberwar.

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