by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
cyberwar, howard schmidt, security

White House Cyber Security Guy: There Is No Cyberwar

from the now-if-only-the-rest-of-the-press-would-recognize-this dept

We recently wrote how some special interests have been playing up the idea that there's some sort of cyberwar going on that the US is losing. Of course, there have been similar claims going back for a decade, without anything to support it. Are there state-supported hackers breaking into computers of other countries? Absolutely. Does that reach the level of "cyberwar"? Not at all. At best its a bit of espionage and maybe a tiny bit of sabotage, but escalating it to the cyberwar level only is good for companies trying to sell "solutions." Thankfully, it sounds like there's actually some sanity in the White House over this, as the top cybersecurity adviser to the president, Howard Schmidt, is playing down the whole "cyberwar" rhetoric in an interview with Wired:
"There is no cyberwar," Schmidt told Wired.com in a sit-down interview Wednesday at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco.

"I think that is a terrible metaphor and I think that is a terrible concept," Schmidt said. "There are no winners in that environment."
Instead, Schmidt seems to be focused on the real issue: espionage. Hopefully, Schmidt's view prevails, and other politicians aren't swept into the moral panic around a non-existent "cyberwar."

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  • icon
    kid mercury (profile), 9 Mar 2010 @ 4:51pm

    of relevance to this article is a document entitled Information Operation Roadmap that was declassified by the Pentagon due to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. you can download the document in pdf format here: http://www.gwu.edu/%7Ensarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB177/info_ops_roadmap.pdf . the document was signed and authorized by donald rumsfeld during his time as secretary of defense (note the department of defense was known as the department of war up until 1947. nice PR move!).

    here are two excerpts from the document:

    "We Must Fight the Net. DoD [Department of Defense] is building an information-centric force. Networks are increasingly the operational center of gravity, and the Department must be prepared to "fight the net." " - 6

    "DoD's "Defense in Depth" strategy should operate on the premise that the Department will "fight the net" as it would a weapons system." - 13

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2010 @ 5:27pm

    Pirates? More like cyberterrorists!!!

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

  • icon
    Karl (profile), 9 Mar 2010 @ 7:09pm

    Administration schizophrenia

    I've noticed that there's a huge amount of contradictions in the White House with regards to tech issues. On the one hand, you have people like this; on the other, you have people who want ACTA treaties and copyright czars.

    I'm firmly convinced that this is some sort of clash between President Obama (who has a pretty solid commitment to openness) and Joe Biden (who has one of the worst tech records of anyone in Washington).

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

  • icon
    Chuck (profile), 9 Mar 2010 @ 7:39pm

    Not fighting, espionage

    Doesn't that sound a bit like the cold war?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2010 @ 9:10pm

    Enough Wars

    It was President Johnson that declared war on poverty. Then Nixon got an a roll and declared war on crime, drugs, and cancer. Now we've got the war on terror. That's at least 5 wars the US has going on in addition to various land wars. Isn't that enough wars for any country or do we really need to add the cyberwar?

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

  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 10 Mar 2010 @ 6:25am

    Fixing our vulnerabilities

    The cyberwar theme is idiotic, and always has been. It's good to see someone in the administration saying so.

    There are risks, of course, but no existential ones -- or there shouldn't be, anyway. If it's possible to pose an existential threat to the US (or any other nation) through the internet, the solution is obvious and relatively cheap & easy: disconnect the vital systems from the internet. They should never have been hooked up here in the first place (and most aren't.)

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 10 Mar 2010 @ 9:40am

    Sadly, though,

    the same people who believed the "reliable" reports of WMD (from famously unreliable sources) are still the same people in top-level, responsible positions of authority... so, hope for sanity? ...dream on.

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

  • identicon
    Cyberwar, 10 Mar 2010 @ 10:14am

    No Cyberwar? Silly...

    Wow, several experts statements have contradicted Schmidt. Just a few, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and former director of national intelligence Michael McConnell. We have seen everything from military system invasion to predator drone signal hacking. How are we not in a cyber war? I see this as a political statement. Just as Obama canceled the term "Global War On Terror" to sooth Muslim allies, I see this "There is no Cyber War" as a tactic to smooth things out with China over recent accusations against them. CYBER ARMS

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

  • icon
    Eliot Ness (profile), 10 Mar 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Howard Schmidt

    There are more problems with Howard Schmidt than you can possibly imagine.

    I have personally tried to whistle-blow an "insider threat" to him that affected his credibility.

    Read it and weep: Schmidt Cover-up

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

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