Feeds

War boffin: Killer cyber attacks won't happen

Die Hard 4 is just a movie, kids

Website security in corporate America

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 ®

Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL

More from The Register

next story
Early result from Scots indyref vote? NAW, Jimmy - it's a SCAM
Anyone claiming to know before tomorrow is telling porkies
Home Depot: 56 million bank cards pwned by malware in our tills
That's about 50 per cent bigger than the Target tills mega-hack
Hackers pop Brazil newspaper to root home routers
Step One: try default passwords. Step Two: Repeat Step One until success
UK.gov lobs another fistful of change at SME infosec nightmares
Senior Lib Dem in 'trying to be relevant' shocker. It's only taxpayers' money, after all
Critical Adobe Reader and Acrobat patches FINALLY make it out
Eight vulns healed, including XSS and DoS paths
Spies would need SUPER POWERS to tap undersea cables
Why mess with armoured 10kV cables when land-based, and legal, snoop tools are easier?
TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab
Be afeared, me hearties, these scoundrels be spying our signals
Blood-crazed Microsoft axes Trustworthy Computing Group
Security be not a dirty word, me Satya. But crevice, bigod...
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.