Are We in a Cyber War?

Sue Marquette Poremba
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I saw a blog post today that posed this question as its title: "Has the Cyber War Begun?"

 

The blog, Big Think, pointed out all the attacks of the past few months - the hacktivists out making noise, the hits on defense and government, big companies forced to apologize for breaches. The blog also mentioned the increase in cyber spying.

 

A CBS News article also looks at the idea of cyber war. The article said:

The escalation of computer hacking now has the Pentagon calling for any cyber-threat to the nation's infrastructure - like the country's power grid - to be considered an "act of war" - virtual threats subject to a very real military response.

The term "cyber war" does give the recent threats a certain sense of urgency that perhaps the term "cyber security" does not. We've been talking about cyber security for a long time now, and it is still a struggle to get people - whether they be in government, business or are a consumer - to give the issue the amount of attention it needs to prevent attacks and to protect information. Turn it into a cyber war or cyber terrorism and people take notice. Take this story from PC World, for example, stating that the government is building a "virtual firing range" to prepare for the cyber war that is either here or coming.


 

Not everyone is caught up in the cyber-war hype, however. In an article at Government Computer News, McAfee researcher Dmitri Alperovitch said he thinks we've turned cyber war into an overused hyperbole. The article said:

The thefts are a real threat, said Alperovitch, who called them "a massive transfer of wealth in intellectual property unprecedented in history." But he draws a clear distinction between criminal activity, espionage, hacktivism and acts of war.

So are we in the midst of a cyber war? Until someone truly defines what cyberwar is, I suppose we'll never know for sure.



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