How to Wage Cyber War

How to Wage Cyber War
How to Wage Cyber War 

By Noah Shachtman
December 12, 2007

Pentagon types are spending God-knows-how-much to wage battle online.  
Brave New War [1] author John Robb [2] offers 'em some tips on how to 
put their dough to the best use [3] .

Over the few years, the Defense Department has morphed the nuclear 
weaponeers of U.S. Strategic Command [4] into network warriors, and 
turned the 8th Air Force into a new "Cyberspace Command."  Not to 
mention plowing countless billions into the National Security Agency [5] 
and all kinds of digital combat cadres [6], scattered throughout the 
armed services.  And from the interviews I've done, at least, the roles 
and expectations for each of these agencies is, um, evolving, at best.

Robb's advice, to his former Air Force colleagues now putting Cyberspace 
Command together:
* Real-world experience and rapid (open source) innovation. Most, if not 
  all, of this experience and innovation in cyberwarfare is gained 
  through criminal activity. Innovation is a product of rapid cycles of 
  competition with software vendors and computer security companies.
* Massive self-replication. Think in term of small teams (the smarter, 
  the better) designing software that seizes control of tens of millions 
  of computer systems through various forms of infection.
* Deniability. Nearly all of the successful operations conducted in 
  offensive cyberwarfare will require deniability. Post-attack forensics 
  must not point back to a government since these wars/battles will be 
  fought in peacetime.

"Given these requirements, Robb believes, "this new Command will likely 
fail (and badly)."  It'll create public relations disasters -- and 
retreat into a largely defensive crouch.  And once it does, it'll be 
outmaneuvered by countries willing to get in bed with online mafias.  
We'll see.


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