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Government Security

There Is No Cyberwar 149

Posted by kdawson
from the because-i-say-so dept.
crowfeather notes an interview with cybersecurity czar Howard Schmidt that Wired's Threat Level conducted this week. "Howard Schmidt, the new cybersecurity czar for the Obama administration, has a short answer for the drumbeat of rhetoric claiming the United States is caught up in a cyberwar that it is losing. 'There is no cyberwar,' Schmidt told Wired.com in a sit-down interview Wednesday at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco. 'I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept,' Schmidt said. 'There are no winners in that environment.' Instead, Schmidt said the government needs to focus its cybersecurity efforts to fight online crime and espionage. His stance contradicts Michael McConnell, the former director of national intelligence who made headlines last week when he testified to Congress that the country was already in the midst of a cyberwar — and was losing it. ... There's been much ink spilled in recent years over the turf battles in D.C. over whether the NSA (representing the military) or DHS (on the civilian side) takes the lead role in cybersecurity. But... "I haven't seen that tension," Schmidt said. As for which will take the cybersecurity lead, Schmidt simply says it's a shared effort."
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There Is No Cyberwar

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  • by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:20AM (#31371270) Journal

    I have actually always wondered about this. I remember how we had to write a school subject about "chinese superhackers" newspaper article in the early 2000's. The Google thing was also showed off to be a work of amateurs, not some Chinese superhackers working for their government. For me it just starts to look like trying to put fear into people for whatever personal reason. "Chinese hackers working for their country to break into US systems" sure sounds cool and creates fear in people, but is there any actual truth behind it? As it is now it's almost like cold war carried over to new technological area. It also looks to be a common thing here on slashdot too - without actually even questioning if theres any truth behind it.

  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:23AM (#31371310)

    Chinese hackers are indistinguishable from Chinese bored teenagers. Or American bored teenagers. Seriously, who cares where they come from?

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Friday March 05, 2010 @11:49AM (#31371638)

    FBI director warns of 'rapidly expanding' cyberterrorism threat [washingtonpost.com]

    This "there is no cyberwar" business plays right into Singel's agenda that anything related to cyber war is really a conspiracy to kill the open internet [wired.com].

    All the "cyberwar" stuff may be overplayed, and no, we're not in a "war", per se, at the moment, but we are most certainly unprepared, as are many open, information-dependent societies...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:00PM (#31371794)

    I think it's naive to believe or suspect it's not happening. I also believe it's naive to think governments don't sponsor it. Espionage, particularly from China, has been rampant in the corporate sector for longer than most of us have been alive. Government is an even bigger target with bigger payoffs. Using the Internet to do so makes it very accessible and completely deniable. I'm not a conspiracy freak but it's foolish to think it's not going on, even if it wasn't right in your face via the news.

    A.C.

  • by jank1887 (815982) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:35PM (#31372240)

    possibly a lot of funding for the civil side (FBI) but not for the military side. Hence the power struggle over definitions.

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:35PM (#31372242)

    I would probably lump it in with signals intelligence, or perhaps counter-intelligence as well. While disabling infrastructure and/or command/control is definitely attractive, it may or may not even be advantageous to do so. These days, just for example, America and China are so co-dependent on each other economically that blowing up a factory or even disabling the electrical grid would actually end up doing reciprocal economic damage to the perpetrating party by taking out part of a market and closing off cash flow. It's b.s. but there it is.

    However, gathering information (intelligence) as well as poising the well (counter-intel) by corrupting databases, etc, would be incredibly useful. Knowing what data the other side is making their decisions on, as well as being able to make change to that data to give your opponent a false impression in order to gain the upper-hand in trade negotiations or raw diplomacy would be friggin' awesome.

    Of course, there are countries with which we don't have such strong economic ties to preclude an actual "military" type attack, or even an actual war. However, between the big players (and frankly, even our "allies" -- Israel is notorious for spying on its so-called friends, and god only knows what MI6 is up to, for instance) the likelihood for big-time industrial espionage against the US, from the US, or between each other, I would suggest it still high.

    Assuming this, I suspect that top targets would really be Commerce, Treasury and State and that those are the locations which need to be hardened more. No one is going to seriously suggest the NSA itself is going to be attacked successfully. The Pentagon, maybe/maybe not. However, those are where the expertise in defense and attack lie Civilian departments are more vulnerable and sweeter fruit to most foreign countries anyway.

    I could be wrong though, but I think that's a fair appraisal of the situation.

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