Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Cyber Cold War?

Next week, i'm headed out to the RSA Conference in San Fracisco to moderate a panel that will discuss whether or not the United States is currently engaged in a "cyber cold war". The panel abstract gives a overview of the planned discussion:
It is widely believed that the world is in the midst of a "cyber cold war". China's alleged cyber espionage against the U.S. and Russia's flexing of its cyber muscles on its neighbors are purportedly examples of this new cold war. It is clear that nation-states use cyber warfare to achieve political goals, but is there a new "cyber cold war"?
The other panelists and I will closely examine the comparison of Cyber War to the Cold War. Specifically, we will analyze the similarities and differences between the geopolitical structure of the Cold War world and today's world order. Further, we will study the specific weapons technologies of the Cold War and of Cyber War and debate if the differences between these technologies negates any comparisons between the eras.

It should make for an interesting discussion and I am very excited to share the stage with renowned cyber security experts including Ed Giorgio, Thomas Fuhrman, Dmitri Alperovitch, and one of my mentors Ed Skoudis.

I'll be sure to post updates from San Francisco about the conference.


Jeffrey said...

Sounds like fun, Ned. Looking forward to reading about how the panel goes.

Pia said...

In response to the readings for the 13th:

I found the contrast between the Denning testimony in front of Congress and the Devost/Pollard report for the Terrorism Research Center interesting, especially with the difference in dates. The testimony was in 2000, a year before 9/11, and the report was in 2002, a year after 9/11.

That brought up a few questions for me. For most people, 9/11 was a shocking wake-up call and resulted in many security changes, etc. How (if at all) did it affect the analysts of cyberterrorism in their analysis, though? If it wasn't 9/11, what else explains the huge shift of outlook on the severity of cyberterrorism between the two documents? (I'm assuming that it's more than just difference of opinion between two experts, but that could be it also.) After more recent examples of cyberterrorism, I hope the government is now taking it more seriously!

Brian S said...

I really enjoyed reading the articles for the April 13th class.

The first article by Dorothy E. Denning, "Activism, Hacktivism, and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a Tool for Influencing Foreign Policy, was particularly fascinating in giving the overview of how the conflict in Kosovo was the first Internet war through the spreading of information and propaganda as well as soliciting support. The impact of Hackers on the internet definitely played a role in the conflict, and this is just an example of how cyberterrorism can cause a physical impact on society.

This point is also noted by Devost and Pollard in the "Taking Cyberterrorism Seriously" where they mention how cyberterrorism can often be a preliminary step for physical terrorism as emergency response communications or security systems can be disrupted, allowing for serious physical damage to occur. Also, such cyberterrorism could affect particular industries that rely on the internet for coordination and communication such as the financial sector, which would cause mass hysteria and even more problems than we are already having in the economy.

Internet security and privacy are very real issues that affect many people in the world, but this cyberterrorism threat is only growing and getting more influential as society progresses through the Internet age and everything is becoming controlled and stored by computers.