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More Kinetic than Nuclear Weapons?
No doubt about the new cyber arms race, and little doubt that there’s much at stake. And while this Bloomberg BusinessWeek cover story goes a long way to showing how hard private industry is working these issues, one quote in particular stands out as over the top:
“This stuff is more kinetic than nuclear weapons,” says Dave Aitel, founder of a computer security company in Miami Beach called Immunity, using a military term for destructive power. “Nothing says you’ve lost like a starving city.”
Ok, while I’m not in league with the political scientists who suggest that we need to occasionally fire off a nuclear bomb as a test to remind everyone of its powers, I think we need to be clear that there are obvious differences between kinetic weapons and cyber weapons. While Stuxnet might have caused centrifuges to burst apart, or someone could use a SCADA system to damage a dam, for instance, those are simply cyber attacks that could cause physical damage. They are not the same thing as kinetic weapons.
While cybercriminals are busy profiting from lax laws, openness and consumers’ gullibility, and governments and industry are busy securing and securitizing cyberspace, cyberattacks aren’t going to cause a city to “starve” or somehow magically become more powerful than nuclear weapons.