Cyberwarfare is the New Normal
It seems that constant low-level cyberwarfare is more or less going to be a thing from now on. Following on from last year’s Stuxnet, Iran and various other countries across the Middle East have discovered a new and much more extensive infection known as Flame. This isn’t really cyberwarfare, so much – Flame seems to have been designed purely as an espionage operation. More or less, it captured everything going on anywhere nearby a computer that was turned on, not to mention anything being done on that computer. Stuxnet was actual cyberwarfare – it did things like tell industrial turbines to spin too fast and wreck themselves.
Rather than flip out about how cyberwarfare will be the death of us all, I’m going to suggest that this is more or less the price of doing business in a digital world. Electronic espionage is as old as electricity, and things like Flame have always been around. It’s just a very sophisticated bugging system. Probably one serving as a false flag for whatever is the real American/Israeli espionage program. Either that or our B team is running the show.
Stuxnet is also not incredibly concerning, but for different reasons. It’s true that the capability to reach into an enemy’s industrial system directly and destroy it from the inside out is now. However, since at least 1941 nations have had the ability to directly attack each other’s infrastructure – we generally call it “bombing”. And as I tell everyone willing to engage in this discussion with me*, strategic bombing has an unbroken record of total military ineffectiveness. Yes, thanks to the series of tubes nations can now mess with each other’s infrastructure directly instead of bombing it. But you know what? Outside of wartime, nations will generally be dissuaded from doing so out of fear of getting caught – and even if they aren’t, it probably won’t work.
*: Very few people are.