OECD: Concept Of Cyberwar Is Overhyped

from the nice-to-finally-see-this dept

We've spent plenty of time over the past year or so discussing how the concept of a "cyberwar" has been blown totally out of proportion, often by those seeking to get rich off of the fear. We've been ridiculed for this, often getting messages from people saying that we don't know what's really going on. However, now the OECD, a rather respectable organization, has stepped up and said the same thing: the concept of a "cyberwar" is totally overhyped, and while there may be random computer-based hacks and attacks here and there, to label it as a "war" is way beyond reasonable.
Attempts to quantify the potential damage that hi-tech attacks could cause and develop appropriate responses are not helped by the hyperbolic language used to describe these incidents, said the OECD report.

"We don't help ourselves using 'cyberwar' to describe espionage or hacktivist blockading or defacing of websites, as recently seen in reaction to WikiLeaks," said Professor Peter Sommer, visiting professor at LSE who co-wrote the report with Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute.

"Nor is it helpful to group trivially avoidable incidents like routine viruses and frauds with determined attempts to disrupt critical national infrastructure," added Prof Sommer.
Part of the problem is that people (again, often with questionable agendas) like to lump all sorts of very different activities under the single heading of "cyberwar" to make it sound like a bigger issue than it really is (and, presumably, to get more money). It's nice to see more level-headed analysis coming out of groups like the OECD. Now, if only governments will actually listen...

Filed Under: cyberwar, oecd


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  1. icon
    Jonathan (profile), 17 Jan 2011 @ 4:05pm

    The Imaginary and the Real

    Granted that there is a lot of hype around cyberwar,
    let's also keep in mind the real-world demo of a weapon in this war. Stuxnet, if we believe the analysis, caused major grief in Iran and had a significant impact on the development of their nuclear capabilities.
    This appears to have been well architected, tightly targeted, military-grade smart weapon that has been very difficult to remediate and caused serious hardware damage.
    I wouldn't want my infrastructure to be the target of Stuxnet 2.0.

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