Friday, August 15, 2008

SPECIAL REPORT: The Coming Cyberwar

ZATZ Publishing, in partnership with The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International, today announced the publication of our latest Special Report, Digital Defense: The Coming Cyberwar.

According to the report, authored by David Gewirtz, ZATZ Editor-in-Chief, Cyberterrorism Advisor to the the International Association for Counterterrorism and Security Professionals, and a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International, when it comes to a future cyberwar, the issue is no longer if it'll happen. Instead, the concern is when it'll happen, how bad it'll be, and how many attacks we'll have to withstand.

Cyberwar is inevitable. From the perspective of our enemies, waging a cyberwar is just too easy and too effective to ignore. Put bluntly, a cyberwar has an excellent ROI (Return on Investment).

As you probably know, Russia has attacked Georgia (Tblisi, not Atlanta) with tanks and troops. However, before the physical attack, there was a cyberattack against many of Georgia's online resources. First indications seemed to imply the cyberattack originated as a Russian offensive, while later analysis by some sources dispute that, claiming that "script kiddies" are behind the assault.

Regardless of how the attack was initiated, a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) crippled some of Georgia's key government and financial resources. The Georgia incident reinforces the reluctant conclusion of the report: cyberwar is coming.

David's 2,949 word Special Report explores the following issues:

* Traditional war is more like a bullet to the chest. Cyberwar is like a cancer -- just as dangerous and deadly, but far more torturous over the long term. And like cancer, we've yet to find a cure for cyberwar.

* How we've seen early attacks already, from the Georgian attack to a suspected Chinese attack that may have impacted the power grid for more than 50 million Americans.

* How, unlike traditional war and even terrorism, cyberattacks aren't going to be initiated just by digitally-capable terrorist organizations like al-Qa'idah and known nation-state enemies like Iran and North Korea. Individual companies and even just bored computer users are also going to be initiating devastating attacks.

* How easy such an attack might be. In 2005, three young men (age 19, 22, and 27) from the Netherlands created a botnet consisting of 1.5 million compromised computers, all engaged in coordinated cyberattacks. They had quickly created a network with the computational capacity at least five times greater than any supercomputer on the planet -- a feat virtually any other attacker could also accomplish.

* How the barrier of entry to a cyber-weapon of mass destruction is incredibly low. According to CNN, the U.S. spent a minimum of $5,821 billion on nuclear weapons programs. While a cyberattack is unlikely to cause the loss of life of a hydrogen bomb, our enemies need to spend merely $314 to deploy a weapons system that may have an even greater reach than a nuclear warhead in terms of overall infrastructure and economic damage.

Finally, the report shows that what makes cyberwar such a potent threat, though, is the economic implications. Not only can a cyberwar damage enemies, unlike virtually ever other war-fighting modality, a well-run cyberwar can also become a profit center through activities like organized identity theft.

David Gewirtz has written more than 600 articles about technology, competitiveness, and national security policy. He is the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

David is a former professor of computer science, has lectured at Princeton, Berkeley, UCLA, and Stanford, has been awarded the prestigious Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering, and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters. He is the author of four books including Where Have All The Emails Gone? and The Flexible Enterprise.

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