could extend into the hundreds of billions of dollars and lead to a cascade of
Yet the ensuing fallout could cause
an additional array of headaches. Because China manufactures many components, obtaining spare parts during
a conflict could prove difficult, if not
impossible. In addition, some analysts
worry that electricity generators and
other components imported from China and other countries could contain
hidden software that allows hackers to
access systems through a back door or
execute a malicious software program
Already, many nations have developed sophisticated hacking and intrusion capabilities, including planting Trojan horses, rootkits, and other
nefarious tools on targeted systems.
Many of these applications stealthily
reside on computers until someone
decides to flip a switch and activate
them. In fact, much of the preparation goes on behind the scenes. “
During ‘peacetime’ many nations actively
prepare for offensive cyberoperations
and some nations probably test their
capabilities with nonattributable
events,” Ottis points out.
Of course, the idea of cyberwarfare
hasn’t been lost on terrorist organizations either. “While nation-states are
likely to be quite choosey about how
and when they use cyberwarfare tools,
terrorists are likely to view things in a
less methodical and calculating way,”
Saydjari explains. “Their goal can be
as simple as destabilizing systems and
creating chaos.” Worse, it is nearly impossible to identify terrorists inflicting
China has funneled
capital and expertise
enlisting civilians and
gangs of hackers.
a cyberattack and strike back at a tangible target. Economic sanctions and
diplomacy aren’t viable either.
What makes the situation all the
more dangerous, Saydjari notes, is that
a relatively large number of cybermer-cenaries exist and many openly advertise their skills. In some instances, they
might be hired to handle a project that
appears less harmful than it actually is
or they might not be concerned about
the repercussions. In addition, these
individuals often act in a rogue manner and they can easily venture beyond
a government’s desired actions.
There is some pushback. For now,
some businesses and governments are
turning to ethical hackers to discover
holes and vulnerabilities and report
them to authorities. In addition, the
U.S. government recently announced a
$40-billion national cybersecurity plan
to combat cyberattacks from foreign
and domestic hackers. However, in
May 2010, James Miller, principal dep-
uty under secretary of defense for poli-
cy for the U.S. Department of Defense,
noted the nation is losing enough data
from cyberattacks to fill the Library of
Congress many times over.
The Evolution of Cyber Warfare, Council on
Foreign Relations, Feb. 2008.
Clarke, R.A. and Knake, R.
Cyber War: The Next Threat to National
Security and What to Do About It, Ecco, new
York, n Y, 2010.
“In a doomsday cyber attack scenario,
answers are unsettling,” Los Angeles Times,
February 17, 2010.
Mueller, R.S. III.
“The State of Cyberterrorism and
Cyberattacks,” speech, RSA Cyber Security
Conference, San Francisco, CA, March 4,
National Research Council
Technology, Policy, Law, and Ethics
Regarding U. S. Acquisition and Use of
Cyberattack Capabilities, 2009.
Samuel Greengard is an author and journalist based in
West linn, or.
© 2010 aCm 0001-0782/10/1200 $10.00
India Plans Its Own OS
india recently announced plans
to develop its own operating
system for government and high-level corporate computers to
make them more secure.
Concerns about the
vulnerabilities of Western-
developed oss and software and
of cyberattacks from computers
based in China raised the issue
to one requiring a significant
response from the indian
government as it moves forward
technologically. last year China
developed its own os, Kylin, for