Feeds

War boffin: Killer cyber attacks won't happen

Die Hard 4 is just a movie, kids

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

People worried about a cyber-war should calm down and stop worrying because it will never happen, a war studies academic has said. In the paper Cyber War Will Not Take Place Dr Thomas Rid confidently argues that hacking and computer viruses never actually kill people.

An act of war must have the potential to be lethal, says Dr Rid, of King's College London, writing in The Journal of Strategic Studies, but hacking and cyber-attacks have much more in common with spying than, say, nuclear bombs.

He believes that although a "cyber war" conforms to the traditional definition of a two-sided conflict, a lethal one will never take place.

"The threat intuitively makes sense," Dr Rid says. "Almost everybody has an iPhone, an email address and a Facebook account. We feel vulnerable to cyber-attack every day. Cyber-war seems the logical next step."

But worriers are misguided: Dr Rid states that to constitute cyber-warfare an action must be a "potentially lethal, instrumental and political act of force, conducted through the use of software". Yet, he says, no single cyber attack has ever been classed as such and no single digital onslaught has ever constituted an act of war.

He concludes: "Politically motivated cyber-attacks are simply a more sophisticated version of activities that have always occurred within warfare: sabotage, espionage and subversion."

Wait for those deadly country-wide digital infrastructure attacks, Dr Rid, just you wait.

The paper was published in The Journal of Strategic Studies ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole
Update your gear now to avoid early attacks hitting the web
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
Ello? ello? ello?: Facebook challenger in DDoS KNOCKOUT
Gets back up again after half an hour though
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.