back to article Cyberwar hype is obscuring real security threats

Cyberwar hype is inhibiting government attempts to develop an appropriate response to cybersecurity threats, say computer scientists. A heavyweight study by UK computer scientists for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concludes that it is "highly unlikely" there will ever be a "pure cyber war”, …


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  1. technome

    Plus ca change...

    <xxxx> hype is inhibiting government attempts to develop an appropriate response to <xxxx> threats, say <xxxx> scientists.

    Where <xxxx> is any field of research you care to name.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    You cannot be serious, professors, if/when a Stuxnet v2.0* is cruising and grooming and blooming ..

    ..... within newly secured root bases.

    Professors Peter Sommer of the London School of Economics and Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, have far too much yet to learn in what is a booming fledgling field, both real and virtual, to be believed and be accepted as being qualified to dismiss ongoing alternative cyber activity, which can so easily be perceived and conceived as a cyberwarfare component, as hype.

    And a statement such as "A heavyweight study by UK computer scientists for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concludes that it is "highly unlikely" there will ever be a "pure cyber war”, …is as a delight to the ears of both zeroday vulnerability testers and cyber warriors alike, for one would then have to conclude that any intense and irregular and unconventional HyperRadioProActive IT shenanigans would just be unusual, exclusive, consolidating business activity and not raw and destructive warfare in the cyber and Intelligence Community domain ........ for the virtual domain is always only a head space, is it not.

    *Posted by: amanfromMars | 01/17/11 | 2:25 am | .......

  3. jake Silver badge

    Waste of column inches ...

    How many times was the useless term "cyber" used in the original article? I can't be arsed to count (or use `grep | wc`, rather ...).

    The real problem facing governments is idiots without any understanding of the basic issues babbling on and on about cyber-this & cyber-that ... those of us in the trenches know that anyone who uses the term "cyber" in a supposedly serious conversation has little or no actual knowledge of computers and networking ...

  4. Naughtyhorse

    the effects of cyberattacks are difficult to predict

    so nothing at all like meat-attacks, such as the highly predictable ones in say iraq, afghanistan, oan that good ol fave 'Nam

  5. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Or... this just a load of old tosh to scare the masses so the beloved Gov can put up their on "Great Firewalls" and collect bucket loads of comms logs in various databases, thus controlling the populace and inflating the bank accounts of IT kit suppliers?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    And this isn't cyber war????

    "The study, aimed at global businesses and policymakers, concludes that hype over cyber-war (or information warfare) is clouding judgements and responses to real threats, such as denial of service attacks against critical infrastructure elements, perhaps along the lines of high-profile denial of service attacks against Estonia back in 2007."

    So DDoSing critical infrastructure is not cyber war, so what is it? And to use the theme of the article, why restrict cyber war to one kine of attack, such as cracking exploits, when there is another (apparantly not cyber war) attack that has proved very effective if applied properly.

    Is this because the goverments have not built up a decent set of botnets yet? The can rent some, crims aren't proud, any money will do.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    We are forgetting the obvious

    So what happens when a nation initiates a mass exploit of the security backdoor that is almost certainly built into Windows?

  8. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


    Don't these people know that the 'cyber' prefix went out of fashion over a decade ago. Cyberpunk is dead, it's all steampunk these days. I am much more excited about the prospect of steam-warfare...

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Cyber is not a fashion, although fascists surely love its style and unusual ambience.

    "Don't these people know that the 'cyber' prefix went out of fashion over a decade ago. Cyberpunk is dead,.." ...... Loyal Commenter Posted Monday 17th January 2011 14:26 GMT

    Well, whether "cyber" is fashionably correct today is a bit of a stinking red herring methinks, Loyal Commenter, but what do you imagine it needs to be, to describe the competitive and adversarial environment in which virtual battles and jousts are engaged to capture hearts and minds for remote neuro-linguistic reprogramming of Virtual Machine Units/Dim Humans.

    How about the probably more accurate and politically correct descriptor, but oh such a hell of a mouthful, steganographic cypher domain? It doesn't really work quite the same, does it. :-)

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Graham, is that you? Are you OK? Am I OK?

    That's two posts of yours I not only understand (well, almost) but agree with, and would recommend to others (especially the stuff about Stuxnet's US/Israel connections becoming less and less deniable in the last day or two).

    See also - although oddly enough, the world's most definitive technical site on Stuxnet and its implications for automated factories, utilities, etc is currently not working for me from here. Purely by coincidence I'm sure.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      We're OK . Thanks for asking, AC

      Anyone thinking that Stuxnet is as a Son of Promis? Step into that field, knowing what you're doing and its Holy Grail territory, without the unnecessary ancient baggage.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ignorant researchers and consultants?

    Stuxnet proved these idiots wrong. There are only a few companies in the US who could create such a worm and they could!!! There are only a few countries in the world who could create such a worm and they could!! This report is pure ignorance as the researchers have no access to the people who could do it. These people wouldn't talk to the dumb folks if you paid them to. Stuxnet could cause a reactor meltdown and it still may! The best talent in the security field can do significant to catastrophic damage to almost any system. "Known exploits" is a funny term - known to whom? Known to the professors and consultants is not what is known to companies with the resources to test for vulnerabilities. And they are not going to report the problems! because their job is likely to exploit the problems for "someone". I have no respect for researchers and consultants anymore. They aren't the DOERS! and they are becoming MOST IGNORANT! and they DON"T KNOW IT!

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      New World Order Players for Sale* ...... Open Source Market Leaders BetaTesting the Virtual Waters

      "The best talent in the security field can do significant to catastrophic damage to almost any system." ..... Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 18th January 2011 09:42 GMT

      AC, I agree with practically everything in that post except the above sentence which should read, to be deadly accurate, and a true reflection of the talent freely available to make a billionaire's fortune seem like small change ... The best talent in the security field can do significant to catastrophic damage to any system.

      * LeaseLend/Temporal Hire, for just like LOVE, is IT something you can Sell and/or Offer for Invest, but one can never ever Buy it, or Purchase it Outright , even with ITs Might.

  12. ex-consultant

    Who pays for this?

    I used to be paid to read and interpret this kind of gobbledegook. Now, I wonder why.

    If these people cannot communicate their findings in simple english that the common person can understand then we should not be wasting hard earned funds on their research.

    Frankly I struggled with what was more like an entry into a contest to see how many irrelevant words can be used in a sentence with a side prize for the longest/most syllables in one word.

    Please don't pander to the ego of these people by publishing their unintelligible communiques.

  13. null 1

    Cyberwar Is Real

    Cyber-warfare tactics, when integrated with the rest of the military's strategic and tactical skill set, could act as a force multiplier, greatly enhancing our military's ability to thwart a foe. While spurious attacks by small groups for the purpose of information gathering can be effective, imagine what a brigade of highly trained programmers, VXers, network specialists, etc. could do if they all worked in concert with a plan and carefully defined objectives. Both civilian and military infrastructure could be infiltrated, destroyed, dismantled, disrupted, and even used against the opposing force.

    Similar techniques have been used for decades in the form of Electronic Warfare. What cyberwarfare does is escalate electronic attack from the tactical level to the strategic level. This is a logical progression as electronic systems have moved from the tactical (ie radios, radar, etc.) to the strategic level (battle management, stock markets, etc.).

    The cyber theater can and will be utilized as a battlespace in the future. There is no way that any private organization will be able to deal with the crushing force of divisions of trained experts being leveraged against their systems. Such a defense strategy would allow the opponent to attack using a "cyber enfilade" strategy, utilizing their crushing economic and manpower advantage to attack systems and organizations individually or in small numbers.

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