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US Decides That If There's No Real Cyberwar, It Might Just Escalate Hack Attacks Into A Real War

from the frightening dept

We've discussed quite a few times how consultants, lobbyists, contractors and government agencies who stand to benefit have been overhyping the threats associated with digital infrastructure by calling it a "cyberwar." The reality is that it's much more about espionage, vandalism and creating significant nuisances, rather than something on the level of a "war." Yet, with the White House's latest "cyberspace" strategy report, it warns that if certain attacks via the internet are seen as hostile, we might just bomb you in response:
“Certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners,” says the document. “When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would any other threat to our country.”
In other words, there might not have been a war when this all started, but by the end of it, the US government will make damn sure that there's a war going on in the traditional sense. Comforting.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would any other threat to our country

    By overreacting with a series of badly-written laws coupled with a complete lack of oversight, all aimed at our own citizens?

    USA! USA! USA!

     

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    Pixelation, May 18th, 2011 @ 4:48pm

    "In other words, there might not have been a war when this all started, but by the end of it, the US government will make damn sure that there's a war going on in the traditional sense. Comforting. "

    Hey Mike, we need to protect Obamas porn collection. Geez.

     

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  3.  
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    anymouse (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    War is what the government defines as war....

    Haven't we learned anything yet?

    War can be declared against anything that opposes the government and their owners (corporations) persuit of ultimate power and control.

    Thus the 'War on Drugs' even though the drugs aren't fighting back, and are actually a large source of 'black ops' funding, which is the real reason for the war.... screw the people, the CIA is tired of competing with those 'illegal pirates' who are importing drugs and not giving the government their cut...

    War on Intellectual Property is about the same thing, but it's a little silly to call it that, so we'll just call it a 'Cyberwar' since that sound better....

    I'm not really serious... am i?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:11pm

    The internet can, of course, be used to engage in a wide assortment of activities that could pose a credible threat to our national security. While perhaps some of the threats may be overstated in some circles, there nevertheless remain some that may very well warrant an aggressive response.

     

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    Rikuo (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 5:19pm

    “Certain hostile acts conducted through cyberspace could compel actions under the commitments we have with our military treaty partners,” says the document. “When warranted, the United States will respond to hostile acts in cyberspace as we would any other threat to our country.”

    First...the US has military treaties with other nations that say, in the event of say, a hacking attempt from North Korea against South Korea, then the US is obligated to drop a few dozen nukes? Okay, obvious over-exaggeration, but what MILITARY treaty would even mention cyberspace?
    Second...once the US says this is a threat, then they will spend years, trillions of dollars and thousands of lives destroying it? Obvious Iraq reference.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:36pm

    The purpose? To protect corporate interests of course. If the interests that have been hacked are big corporate interests, then you're declaring war on the U.S. government since their interests are pretty much aligned.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:39pm

    Re:

    The proper response would be to separate confidential data from the Internet and to properly secure your servers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:42pm

    Seems to me this is talking about something more along the lines of a Stuxnet targeted at the U.S. Depending on the specific target I could see a war starting because of that.

     

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    abc gum, May 18th, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    Soon it will be expanded to include piracy or anything else that the corporate overlords do not like. This is retarded, unenforceable and would, if implemented, ultimately lead to the downfall of this nation.

     

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    John Doe, May 18th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    Is the reverse ok too?

    So the Stuxnet attack on Iran's nuclear reactors could be seen as an act of war so it would be ok if they attack the US if it turns out the US was behind the attack?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 6:35pm

    Re: War is what the government defines as war....

    Those poor innocent bags of weed...

     

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    Christopher (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 7:05pm

    Re: Is the reverse ok too?

    DING! DING! DING! We have a winner folks!

    The United States might want to be VERY leery of this, because some countries might say what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

     

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    Liz, May 18th, 2011 @ 7:30pm

    People are saying this is about corporate interests. So when do we nuke China?

     

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    letherial (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    This is way over hyped. What they are saying is if its big enough, we will bomb you; but the US doesn't need a reason to bomb anyone, we just do it (iraq) so if say Iran is in our sites, we might pretend there is a cyber attack, or we might find any other million other reasons to start a war.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    Step 1. Use proxies in a country you don't like.
    Step 2. Provoke the US from that country.
    Step 3. The US invades.

    Presto! The US army has voluntarily placed itself under the control of hackers.

     

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  16.  
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    Michael Kohne, May 18th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    Ummm...obvious

    I'm sorry, was it not obvious to everyone that if we were attacked in some way, we might choose to respond in a different way?

    If someone managed to damage our infrastructure via cyber attack, AND we know who it was, then I don't see why we might not choose to damage their infrastructure via explosive means.

    I don't think there's much new here, other than someone saying it out loud.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 9:16pm

    Re:

    Operation false flag.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:31pm

    Re: Ummm...obvious

    So if someone robbed a bank, lets blow up their house.

    No, we have a system in place to arrest them, put them on trail, etc...

    Same here. Cyber attacks do not warrant blowing things up, heck, bank robberies justify blowing things up more than cyber attacks since bank robberies tend to be violent in nature. You don't use destructive violence against non-violent crimes (unless those criminals respond to your non-violent attempts to suppress their criminal activity with violence, but then the retaliatory violence is targeted at their violent response, not their non-violent crimes).

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 10:34pm

    Re: Re: Ummm...obvious

    (and if someone who has committed a non-violent crime resists arrest, the minimal amount of violence necessary to put them in custody is acceptable. But it's their resistance that warrants the violence, not the non-violent crime).

     

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  20.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 18th, 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Ummm...obvious

    1) Set up a proxy in Yemen;
    2) Cyberattack the PEntagon
    3) ???
    4) PROFIT!!!

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 18th, 2011 @ 11:23pm

    I can also see this used as yet another way for the govt (customs, TSA) to get into our computers, ipods, smartphones, etc. without a warrant.

    I'm sure there are companies lining up to sell their CYBERWAR WEAPONRY to the govt. too. Look how many billions those scanner guys got!

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 12:30am

    Um, no. You've already pointed out why the attack on Iran doesn't count.

    The USA did it to another country, one full of rag heads and sand niggers I might add, thus they deserved it.

    USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!

     

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  23.  
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    Rick, May 19th, 2011 @ 2:06am

    Re:

    Yes, but it was the USA who sent the Stuxnet in the first place. So basically they are saying "Hey we can hack you, but don't you dare hack us back..even though we started it!"

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 5:22am

    People forget what happened at the Gulf of Tonkin. This is just set up for the next such incident (it could be said all of Iraq was a Gulf of Tonkin incident).

     

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  25.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Another one for the books.

    The US government had proven without a doubt that it has absolutely no idea how to respond to a hack. Is it a good idea to declare war on all hackers?

     

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  26.  
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    johnp, May 19th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Desparate

    As the American people begin to see through the scare tactics that the government has employed since the Cold War, those in power are getting desperate. The continued expansion of the American Empire and the continued global presence of the American military require people to be afraid, for that's the only way the American people can rationalize and accept the actions of an out-of-control executive, military, and secret service. The military industrial complex will continue to manufacture enemies to perpetuate that fear until we stop buying it. Will hackers be the new Muslims? Who knows. Hopefully, once and for all, people will open their eyes and realize that they have been deceived.

     

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  27.  
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    johnp, May 19th, 2011 @ 5:59am

    Re:

    No, only an aggressive action warrants an aggressive response. Hacking is a passive act, a probe for information. While we should do what we can to protect sensitive information, we must realize that we live in an age where secrecy is extremely difficult, and that's a good thing. The most vile and evil acts perpetrated by governments have been done in secret.

     

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  28.  
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    johnp, May 19th, 2011 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Ummm...obvious

    Better yet, how about we stop putting people in jail for non-violent crimes? (Fraud would be the exception. While it is non-violent, it still does harm to another person.)

     

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  29.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 7:22am

    Re:

    Hrm.. In all seriousness, how could this fail?

     

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  30.  
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    Phillip Vector (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 7:23am

    Re: Another one for the books.

    Sony tried this.. Look what happened to them.

     

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  31.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    I would also like to point out that one of the countries has a company that makes an operating system and other software that is used (or pirated) by most of the world.

    How easy is it for that country to get a genuine, signed "update" into the systems of an enemy?

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous American, May 19th, 2011 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re:

    "Hey we can attack you, but don't you dare do it back..even though we started it!"

    FIFY. This has been the cornerstone of all purported "first world" countries since World War Two.

     

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  33.  
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    Shane Roach (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 9:34am

    It's the Economy

    The internet is host to a lot of very important commerce. One cannot simply take that offline. A flagrant enough attack on important commercial activities could indeed warrant a physical response.

    Techdirt is usually pretty good about admitting potential legitimate concerns. I hope that continues. I am not interested in subscribing to it if it is to become just another online clearing house for anti-government sentiments.

     

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  34.  
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    HrilL, May 19th, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re: Re: Ummm...obvious

    Lets see. Country cyber attacks our power grid. Millions of people lose power. The act in and of itself is non-violent but this still lead to people dieing and a large economic impact.

    It would be completely acceptable to attack the country behind the attack with bombs. Maybe we decide to take out their power, clean water, and communication networks for starters.

    As for this whole thing being new news I somehow doubt it. This has always been our policy if its a large attack on our nation we would for sure defend ourselves with what ever means deemed necessary.

     

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  35.  
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    Rikuo (profile), May 19th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Re: Re: Re: Ummm...obvious

    How would the enemy country cyber attack the power grid...unless the government was idiotic enough to connect the grid to the internet.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous (but not a) Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 12:18pm

    "hostile acts"?

    Hey America! I hate you!
    ~Europe

    Did that just start World War Three?

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2011 @ 1:43pm

    A taste of armageddon, indeed.

     

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  38.  
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    chuck, May 23rd, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Ummm...obvious

    OK so I hack into the power grid from let's say Trump Plaza.
    Then its OK to bomb Atlantic City? (not that it would be a bad thing really)

    What ever happened to "fight fire, with fire"?
    Or better yet "Fight Fire, with Water"?
    Since when did it all become fight everything by bombing?

     

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  39.  
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    DeepCut (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 12:36am

    All through history, Evil has been Stupid ...

     

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  40.  
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    DeepCut (profile), Jun 14th, 2011 @ 12:39am

    Re: It's the Economy

    Well the USA has been mis-governed for at least 50 years so perhaps there's good reason for a lot of the sentiment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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