As wrenching as traditional warfare is, there is a new kind of threat brewing that ultimately could cause even greater harm to the planet, retired general Wesley Clark told TechNewsWorld. “We’re in a cyber-struggle today,” he said. “We don’t know who the adversaries are in many cases, but we know what the stakes are: continued economic vitality and, ultimately, global civilization.”
The conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan, to name the most prominent, are taking their toll on human life and limb. However, the escalating cyberconflict among nations is far more dangerous, argues retired general Wesley Clark
That cyberconflict will take a far greater toll on the world, contends Clark
TechNewsWorld: While it’s generally agreed that the next war may be a cyberwar, much of our infrastructure is either hooked up to the Internet or in the process of being hooked up to the Internet. Electricity companies, for example, are agitating for the use of smart meters. That being the case, and with hackers increasing the frequency and sophistication of their attacks, does the increasing pace of hooking everything up to the Internet pose a real security threat?
Clark: We’re going into completely digitized medical records, which could lead to a huge invasion of privacy. It could also lead to things like blackmail and is physically dangerous because people can tamper with records of vital signs, or can alter prescriptions. There’s no telling just what could be done.
Companies could lose their supply chain management, lose their accounting records, lose their customer lists. Trying to rebuild this on paper when we’ve all been interconnected on the Internet will cause years of economic decline. We are, as a civilization, quite vulnerable to disruption, and this security problem doesn’t just affect one nation but the whole global economic infrastructure.
You can’t conceive of the threats from the point of view of a traditional war. Cyber-efforts are ongoing today; we’re in a cyber-struggle today. We don’t know who the adversaries are in many cases, but we know what the stakes are: continued economic vitality and, ultimately, global civilization.
Some countries’ police forces don’t understand what a bot is or understand cloud computing. This is not surprising; technology is usually ahead of the law, and we need people who can work both realms and can bring the law up to speed.
There needs to be a multidimensional, multilayered and multi-azimuth defense. That is, defense has to look in all directions. When you’re talking about cybersecurity, you’re talking about being able to protect your points. It’s not directed against a country, but to secure your points of access or specific end points or network access. It’s not as though you’re arming yourself against a specific threat — you’re simply undertaking all aspects of protection.