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The Star Online
October 31, 2008
KUALA LUMPUR: The billions of dollars spent on researching cyberwarfare
can be put to better use because cyberwar is never going to be as
effective as conventional war, said an IT =C2=ADsecurity expert.
Marcus Ranum, chief security officer of Tenable Network Security said
cyberattacks aren=E2=80=99t a good force multiplier in an actual war.
Many people, he said, talk about cyberspace as if it can be a new form
of battlefield but this is not possible because you can=E2=80=99t occupy and
hold cyberspace as you would a piece of enemy territory.
Ranum was speaking at HiTBSecConf 2008 here this week.
He said trying to overcome another country via cyberspace is impossible
unless you also have a huge army that can defeat its forces in
A small country, even with an army of hackers on its side, is never
going to be able to defeat a big country with an extensive land, air and
sea military force by attacking through the Internet.
=E2=80=9CFurthermore, any country that is thinking about using cyberwarfare
better be prepared for a fierce =C2=ADretaliation in the real world from its
opponent,=E2=80=9D he said.
He said launching a cyberwar by attempting to cripple an enemy=E2=80=99s command
and control network would be like =E2=80=9Cluring Mike Tyson into a small, dark
room with you and then threatening to beat the boxer into a pulp.=E2=80=9D
=E2=80=9CThis is called the =E2=80=98blind Mike Tyson effect=E2=80=99 and the last thing anyone
wants to do is to scare a large and powerful nation into a conventional
war because the retaliation would be worse.=E2=80=9D
It would be better to spend money on conventional weapons, he said. Or
better, channel the funds to more positive causes, such as disaster
Ranum finds it disconcerting when he reads about the military discussing
=E2=80=9CYou=E2=80=99re talking about bringing military operations into cyberspace to
potentially commit acts of war and other countries may retaliate in ways
that you may not be prepared for,=E2=80=9D he said.
Cyberwars, he said, are best left to Hollywood and computer games
because it isn=E2=80=99t as effective in the real world. =E2=80=9CIt sounds really cool
=2E.. I think people read too much science fiction,=E2=80=9D he added.
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