Feb 2012, Vol. 157, No. 1
By Thomas Rid and Peter McBurney
What are cyber-weapons? Instruments of code-borne attack span a wide spectrum, from generic but low-potential tools to specific but high-potential weaponry. This distinction brings into relief a two-pronged hypothesis that stands in stark contrast to some of the received wisdom on cyber-security. Maximising the destructive potential of a cyber-weapon is likely to come with a double effect: it will significantly increase the resources, intelligence and time required for development and deployment – and more destructive potential is likely to decrease the number of targets, the risk of collateral damage and the political utility of cyber-weapons.