White House cybersecurity coordinator Howard Schmidt said that policymakers and others should stop â€œconflatingâ€¦ cyberwar with cyber-espionage with cybercrime.â€
According to Mr. Schmidt, securing the information superhighway involves too many factors to be lumped into a single bucket. Resolving online criminality like identity theft should be treated differently than protecting the electric grid from sabotage by foreign powers or online espionage, but war-like rhetoric may threaten the U.S.â€™s ability to deal with any of these issues effectively, he warned.
â€œWords do matter. When we start throwing out these things, like weâ€™re in the midst of a cyber war, or that cyber war is around the corner, thereâ€™s a lot of [those things] that donâ€™t actually apply, so we really have to define what it is that weâ€™re talking about.â€
It was in fact Mr. Schneier who kicked off discussion of the war-like rhetoric, claiming that this is part of a turf war to determine which federal agency would have control over cybersecurity, abetted by â€œexaggeration and distortionâ€ by a â€œmilitary industrial complex that does that quite well.â€
â€œMetaphors matter here,â€ he added. â€œAll these examples [of online sabotage] arenâ€™t really warfare, but if you call them warfare, a different set of psychological buttons get pushed. To the police, we are citizens to defend. To the military, we are a population to be subdued, or at least to get out of the way and not make trouble.â€
Mr. Schmidt, the White House cybersecurity coordinator, deplored the â€œterrible use of the word â€˜cyberwarâ€™.â€
Mr. Schneier also asserted that the Department of Defense â€œwonâ€ the turf war over â€œwhoâ€™s in charge of national security in cyberspaceâ€¦ the U.S. cyber-command is sort of co-located with the [National Security Administration Agency] and it has the same head.
Microsoftâ€™s Mr. Charney noted that the United States â€œhas tried to come up with one over-arching strategy [for securing cyberspace]â€¦ but there are really four different ones.â€ He said that cyber crime, corporate online espionage, online sabotage of national infrastructure, and military espionage online all need to be dealt with separately.
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