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Cyber War -Vs- Conventional War

Original post made by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto, on Aug 2, 2009

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This is a fascinating NYT article about how vulnerable the world is to cyber warfare.

We are in the epicenter of tech here in Palo Alto. Until I read this article today, I had not thought very much about how we lack a "Department of Defense" for cyber warfare.

Models of states -vs- states, the notion of physical weaponry such as bombs guns and soldiers, all are not part of this notion of how not just the US, but the entire world could be "attacked."

Read the article, it starts with some stuff about Irag, but goes on to get to larger questions and let's have a good discussion about what all this means.

Comments (9)

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Posted by R Wray
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2009 at 5:28 pm

This article is the NYT pushing Just War Theory. This is a morally corrupt theory. How many US soldiers lost their life because Bush did not approve the cyberattack on Iraq?


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2009 at 6:44 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

We need to re institute the common sense determination that any act that is detrimental to the United States must be opposed or countered. Self defense has atrophied because of the imposition that it must be "fair". Because of this "fairness" we cannot punish a smaller nation's military incursions on our territory nor piracy on our shipping. We fail to demand reciprocity with other nations in treatment of our citizens or trade.
Every government representative must be guided by "Whose side am I on?" not "What is fair?"


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2009 at 1:33 pm

The cyber warfare potential is hardly new. The wonder is that al Qaida or its equivalents haven't wised up to the possibilities long ago.

Our humongous spending on "defense" is focused on refighting WWII with faster airplanes and bigger rockets and Hummered-up jeeps, on making shiny toys that make big noises and go fast. These make a big impression at air shows but are worthless against the real threats of today.

9-11 demonstrated the huge leverage of a well-planned attack on the privileged but timid US society. Yet, in Wall Street terms, it cost its perpetrators virtually nothing. Now consider the cost/benefit of simply scrambling routing signals on the banking channels or even ordinary telephone channels. You need only a few entry-level computers and even fewer people who really know how to use them.

If I've conceived it, so have the real hackers.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2009 at 8:51 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

A/E, I agree with your assessment of society's vulnerability, but hysteresis can be our friend against both ally and enemy. As the beneficiary of close air support and napalm, and grandpa of a Mud Marine with two tours in Fallouja, I will take all the whiz-bang available. I agree the Humvee was an inappropriate combat vehicle. We had better infantry carriers but didn't use them. Laser designators beat hell out of an FAC, and air superiority is a winner any day. I love the Warthog, but any air superiority fighter that can engage and defeat a dozen Freedom Fighters is worth whatever it costs. The bargain fighters might as well stay pots and pans. A pity the Democrats voted to give a revitalized USSR the air by default.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:21 am

" As the beneficiary of close air support and napalm, and grandpa of a Mud Marine with two tours in Fallouja, I will take all the whiz-bang available."

My point exactly. Your close air support experience was Korea, aka WW 2.01. Now tell us how F-22 close air support has saved your grandson's bacon. (Hint: those $300m geewhizbangers, although operational, have never been used over there.) Compare and contrast with IED intel gained monitoring web and telephone traffic.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2009 at 4:03 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

No one even tries an air assault on US troops because they know we can, currently, vacuum the skies. As bad as were IEDs, they are over-matched by incoming fighter-bombers. As for the IEDs, the truly improvised ones were displaced early on with manufactured shaped charged devices. We lacked the will to use those 22s to take out the plants and the trucks bringing them into Iraq.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2009 at 4:11 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Incidentally, the expensive B-2, sitting safe in Missouri, prevents any significant massing of troops anywhere in the world.


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Posted by An Engineer
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

"As for the IEDs, the truly improvised ones were displaced early on with manufactured shaped charged devices. We lacked the will to use those 22s to take out the plants and the trucks bringing them into Iraq."

That piece of technical nonsense was propaganda for war on Iran. Armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed projectiles) were the real threat. They can be made easily and cheaply in any automobile machine shop, even some garages.

"Incidentally, the expensive B-2, sitting safe in Missouri, prevents any significant massing of troops anywhere in the world."

Show me. Missouri has its points but it's not magical. No airplane, no matter how expensive, can prevent any massing of troops anywhere in the world while sitting safe in Missouri.

The B2 was ginned up for a mission that no longer exists. Although it has been used cautiously in combat, its major accomplishment, as with the B1, was to get built. Our main line bomber is still the B52, which began design in 1946 and first flew in 1952.

However, none of these WWII-era weapons offers any defense against cyber warriors, who can do more $$ damage than all of them much quicker.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2009 at 5:16 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

RESPONSE TO:
Posted by An Engineer, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:06 pm

"As for the IEDs, the truly improvised ones were displaced early on with manufactured shaped charged devices. We lacked the will to use those 22s to take out the plants and the trucks bringing them into Iraq."

That piece of technical nonsense was propaganda for war on Iran. Armor-piercing EFPs (explosively formed projectiles) were the real threat. They can be made easily and cheaply in any automobile machine shop, even some garages.
THE PUBLIC DESIGNATION OF IED WAS CONTINUED WHEN THEY WERE MOSTLY MANUFACTURED IN IRAN. EFP = SHAPED CHARGE.

"Incidentally, the expensive B-2, sitting safe in Missouri, prevents any significant massing of troops anywhere in the world."

Show me. Missouri has its points but it's not magical. No airplane, no matter how expensive, can prevent any massing of troops anywhere in the world while sitting safe in Missouri.

The B2 was ginned up for a mission that no longer exists. Although it has been used cautiously in combat, its major accomplishment, as with the B1, was to get built. Our main line bomber is still the B52, which began design in 1946 and first flew in 1952.

THE B52 IS USELESS AGAINST A SOPHISTICATED TARGET. THE B2 HAS NEVER BEEN DETECTED ON A MISSION, AND DELIVERS A HEAVY LOAD OF PRECISION BOMBS. THE ENEMY IS AWARE OF OUR POTENTIAL FOR INTERDICTION AND PLANS ACCORDINGLY. SEE DETERRENT.

However, none of these WWII-era weapons offers any defense against cyber warriors, who can do more $$ damage than all of them much quicker.

THREATS DO NOT NEATLY WAIT THEIR TURN - THE EXISTENCE OF ANY ONE THREAT DOES NOT DENY OTHERS. MY KNOWLEDGE OF CYBER DEFENSE IS LIMITED TO ONE-TIME PADS AND INDEPENDENT PATH AUTHENTICATION, SO I ONLY HOPE THAT SUCH PROCEDURES ARE ALL IN EFFECT ON THE MORE SENSITIVE APPLICATIONS.


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