Bring on the cyberwar

There is something special about Berlin. Just a feeling that can’t be fully explained, that the cold and snowy weather enhances well. But I also can’t help thinking about the Len Deighton cold-war-espionage books, checkpoint Charlie, east and west clashing in this city that was like an explosive tip of a gun powder barrel.

When I grew up, Sting sang “I hope the Russians love their children too” and what he meant was love them enough to not annihilate the entire planet. War was serious, and war between world powers was scary. Remember War Games? You’d think people will be afraid of Kevin Mitnick’s hacking skills, but what they were more afraid of was him starting world war III that would potentially wipe out hundreds of millions of people.

So I must admit I’m slightly amused by the threats of ‘cyberwar’. Lets assume for a minute John Lennon was wrong and there will never be ‘peace on earth’. Lets assume that whether it’s because of testosterone, ego, or some other reason taught in psychology 101, nations will continue to fight each other. If that’s the case, what better way to do that than on the Internet? Have them hack each other Ad Nauseam; bring down computers or networks, plant Trojan Horses and steal sensitive data. Assuming the current superpowers are China and the US, isn’t cyberwar the perfect way to ventilate mutual aggression without human casualties?

Of course, there’s a worse case scenario where that stops being funny: if cyberwar can be used to shut down critical infrastructure, people will get killed. But that doesn’t seem to be the direction this “war” is going. Nations fighting on the Internet? I say bring it on.

On a related note, check out Richard Stiennon’s new book about Cyberwar. And if you are in DC, go hear him speak on Thursday about Google Aurora, Stuxnet, and the wikileaks DoS attacks. Really fascinating stuff.