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10 easy steps to writing the scariest cyberwarfare article ever

10 easy steps to writing the scariest cyberwarfare article ever
10 easy steps to writing the scariest cyberwarfare article ever

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By Evgeny Morozov
Foreign Policy

1. You need a catchy title. It pays to cannibalize on some recent tragic event
from the real world; adding "cyber" to its name would usually trigger all the
right associations. Studies show that references to "digital Pearl
Harbor","cyber-Katrina", and "electronic 9/11" are most effective, particularly
for stories involving electricity grids or dams. Never make any explicit
attempts to explain the bizarre choice of your title=E2=80=93 you need to leave enough
ambiguity out there for your readers to "connect the dots" themselves. This is a
win-win: readers love solving important cyberspy puzzles - and you could get
away without doing any analysis of your own. Quoting real facts would spoil the
puzzle-solving experience; plus, the fewer facts you quote, the harder it would
be to debunk your story!

2. Begin the story in Estonia, with a reference to its 2007 attacks; make sure
to play up the =E2=80=9CE-stonia=E2=80=9D tune and how the entire country was under online siege
for a month (never mention that rioting in the Estonian streets was much more
devastating and that the actual online siege lasted for twenty minutes at best).
Setting the story in Estonia would also help to play up the Soviet threat that
never really left the country. Blame NATO's impotence, praise Skype's genius,
quote non-existent local Web entrepreneurs who lost all their savings in the

3. Drop references to the evil Chinese hackers in every paragraph (in every
sentence, if it's an article about GhostNet) . Don't forget to mention that
cyberwarfare was first explained by Sun Tzu and has been part of the Chinese
military tradition since the Shang dynasty. Make unverifiable claims about the
tacit support that the Chinese government has offered to its nationalist
hackers. Find and quote a Chinese blogger who can't log-in to his blog; quote
from a recent Pentagon review of China's military power to explain why this may
all be part of China's grand cyberwarfare strategy.

4. Mention the cyber-pranks of as many Kremlin-affiliated youth movements as you
can, all the better if they are obscure or only exist on paper. Anyone whose
last name ends in "-ov" or "-ev" qualifies as a Kremlin bigwig; use their every
sneeze as an extremely accurate articulation of Kremlin's own thinking on
cyberwarfare. Keep referencing shady Russian outlets like the Russian Business
Network; the fact that they have not been in the news in 2007 only proves they
are doing a great job in the cyber-underground.


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