Quick Study

By Brian Robinson

Blog archive

Will cyberattacks lead to bomb-and-bullets war?

Until now, the combination of cyber and war sparked notions of virtual armies slamming away at each other in cyberspace, a nasty confrontation online but relatively harmless for regular folks.

Perhaps that’s changing. According to an Agence France-Presse story out of Davos, Switzerland, at least, the U.S. seems closer to seeing a cyberattack as the basis for a declaration of traditional war.

The AFP quotes Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, as saying that prospect is now being considered:

If someone bombed the electric grid in our country and we saw the bombers coming in it would clearly be an act of war. ... If that same country uses sophisticated computers to knock out our electricity grid, I definitely think we are getting closer to saying it is an act of war.

Some people are trying to get ahead of this scenario. At the same meeting, the head of the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union proposed a “first strike” treaty through which signatories would agree not to be the first to launch a cyberattack. A cyber war, Hamadoun Toure said, would be catastrophic.

Is it not a little ironic that, just as the U.S. and Russia seem near to a new treaty that would significantly decrease the threat of nuclear war, we may be edging closer to war caused by virtual phantoms?

Maybe we need a new Doomsday Clock.

Posted by Brian Robinson on Feb 03, 2010 at 12:19 PM


Featured

  • Defense

    DOD wants prime contractors to be 'help desk' for new cybersecurity model

    The Defense Department is pushing forward with its unified cybersecurity standard for contractors and wants large companies and industry associations to show startups and smaller firms the way.

  • FCW Perspectives
    tech process (pkproject/Shutterstock.com)

    Understanding the obstacles to automation

    As RPA moves from buzzword to practical applications, agency leaders say it’s forcing broader discussions about business operations

Stay Connected

FCW INSIDER

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.