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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 
conventional warfare.

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 
relief programmes.

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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