Technology, Security

Virtual weapons the warfare of the future?

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An excellent column by cyber warfare adviser David Gerwitz in ZDNet Government bears the headline:   “Stuxnet may be the Hiroshima of our time.”

Have I got your attention?

The cyber security community has been fixated on Stuxnet, the industrial control worm that is alleged to have disabled 20 percent of Iran’s centrifuges used in making an atomic weapon. Stuxnet, which I also wrote about a couple of days ago, introduces (or reinforces) the notion of cyber warfare.

Certainly Gerwitz’s headline does.

[I say reintroduces because worms and viruses are nothing new. Check out Wikipedia’s “Virus and Worm” timeline going back to 1969. And does anyone remember Vault Corp.’s Prolok Plus data-destroying  worm from the mid-eighties that promised to thwart unlicensed software usage?]  

The most interesting part of his column for CIOs is the second half on virtual weapons. If governments start using them, why not corporations willing to cross the ethical and criminal line to injure their rivals or even balky governments (think oil)?

You might say Gerwitz is alarmist because he is in intelligence community. More security challenges keep his type employed. My sense, though, is he offers an intelligent and informed view of what’s coming with virtual weapons.

“I don’t look forward to the day when we’re on the defending end of an attack like Stuxnet, but I do expect that day to come,” he writes. I don’t look forward to it either.

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