By Noah Shachtman
Wired Magazine 17.10
The Pentagon already employs legions of elite hackers trained in
cyberwarfare. But they mostly play defense, and that's what Naval
Postgraduate School professor John Arquilla wants to change. He'd like
the US military's coders to team up with network specialists abroad to
form a global geek squad. Together, they could launch preemptive online
strikes to head off real-world battles.
Armies (even guerrilla armies) are so dependent on digital
communications these days that a well-placed network hit could hobble
their forces. Do these cyberattacks right.and openly.and the
belligerents will think twice before starting trouble. Arquilla calls
his plan "a nonlethal way to deter lethal conflict."
Sure, it's risky. A misinterpreted or misattributed attack could inflame
tensions. Or you might fritz the good guys and civilians by mistake. But
Arquilla says this "kinder, gentler deterrence" is better than
threatening to strangle an adversary's economy or reduce its cities to
radioactive cinders. Here are three scenarios in which preemptive
cyberattacks could prevent bloodshed.
1.)Scenario: Defusing South Asia
Situation: Pakistan and India are massing armies on their shared border.
Solution: Take out the command-and-control networks on both sides before
these nuclear-armed foes can go to war for a fifth time. In the 1951
film The Day the Earth Stood Still, Arquilla notes, a benevolent alien
shuts down the machines of Earth's superpowers before they can spread
nukes to other planets. Here, US- led hackers play the ET role to put
the conflict on ice.
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