Viewpoint: War analogies tread a fine line

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Cyberterrorism: The Economic Front
I am a 20-plus-year information security professional and spent 15 years in the Army, including tours in Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the first Gulf War, and served in Somalia. I believe I can comment on war with some authority.

Marcus Ranum and Bruce Schneier (Face-Off: "Cyberwar: Myth or Reality," November 2007) make good points, but war is war.

War does not require the direct death of one person. It is the indirect or collateral damage war causes that is paramount and takes the worst toll on society: the innocent death related to collateral damage.

There are several levels of war from a militaristic viewpoint, including light intensity conflict (similar to Iraq and Afghanistan), which can escalate to thermonuclear war (tens of thousands dead). But there are other concepts of war and the ugliest is the war of economics. This is the war cyberterrorism wreaks havoc on.

Civilian financial institutions, government financial organizations and private companies rely on the Internet or private data communications; disruption would affect all.

It's funny how people have forgotten the Cold War, when nations spent trillions defending a notion of war. One has to ask if that threat is still viable. With Russia pulling out of NATO, China bolstering its military and economic stance, and Iran flexing its muscles about denying peace in the Middle East, one has to come to a conclusion that the Cold War is still alive and kicking.

With that said, we bring the capabilities of the Internet into play and the ability of state-sponsored cyberarmies or private armies to bear; then it is easy to see the stability of our economies is in question. We generally do not feel the impact of these armies at work since the current Internet is very robust, the cost of bandwidth has dropped considerably and the overall capacity is so much greater that just a few years ago. Once we realize that we cannot exponentially grow the Internet indefinitely, we will start to feel the stress, which will just add to the turmoil, which is what caused real wars that kill real people.

I, as well, do not feel the sky is falling. However, U.S. entities (private, public and government) need to be much better prepared than they are today--just in case.

Wayne T Work Sr.
Security Gauntlet Consulting LLC


Separating Work, Home Security
Jay G. Heiser (Layer 8 "Too Much Security," October 2007) sounds like a pretentious complainer. Like too many users out there, he is forgetting that his work computer is just that, his employer's computer not his. He can do whatever he wants with his [personal] computer.

Scott Ornstein
IT operations manager, Innophos


Anniversary Kudos
Congratulations on a magnificent 10th anniversary edition of Information Security. My favorite part was the predictions, but the entire issue was a pleasure to read from cover to cover. Much has happened in the past 10 years with respect to the changing threat landscape, and your magazine has done a wonderful job of keeping up with the emerging trends. From script-kiddie hackers to organized crime to sophisticated nation-state espionage, you have done a marvelous job of keeping readers informed on the serious business of information security. I look forward to more insightful articles and timely commentary on the rapidly changing security landscape.

Marcus sachs
Director, SANS Internet Storm Center

This was first published in March 2008

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