Assessing the True Threat of Cyberwar

Friday, February 15, 2013


This week, President Obama issued an executive order to strengthen the nation's cyber security against what the government sees as a potentially cataclysmic threat. There has been plenty of drum beating about the threat of cyber warfare, but just how realistic is the threat of an attack that could wreak havoc on our national infrastructure? In a story from August of 2012, On the Media producer Alex Goldman investigates.


Jun Miyake - Lillies of the Valley


John Arquilla, Jerry Brito, Eireann Leverett and David Sanger

Produced by:

Alex Goldman

Comments [3]

deserthackberry from Texas

We don't need to worry because the attempts haven't had an impact YET? Did we learn nothing from 9/11? That time we lost fewer than 3000 people. What do you think would happen if our enemies successfully shut down the water supply to one of our desert cities? We'd have roughly 3 days to restore the water supply to millions of people, or evacuate them. I don't have a lot of faith in our ability to do either, based on personal experience with the response of federal and local governments and utilities to a natural disaster.

As for the DOD increasing their IT personnel, that doesn't really make me feel much better. Another Sandia National Laboratories employee was just arrested for passing information to the Chinese. This must have come as a complete shock, given that he had "renounced his Chinese citizenship, become a U.S. citizen, [and[ bought a house here and is raising his U.S. citizen kids here." I mean, a spy wouldn't do that after all, would he?

Feb. 17 2013 04:35 PM
JDNYC from Manhattan

I do love how academic experts claim credit for coming up with the idea of cyber war, when episodes of "Star Trek" did it long before them. For example, two particular episodes of that show are directly on point to concepts discussed in this program. First, in "Errand of Mercy," you had the Organians interfering - a la the UN - in an escalating conflict between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. The Organians acted through the modern variant of cyber warfare, inflicting no casualties, but rather rendering the command and control of the opposing forces useless. Second, in "A Taste of Armageddon," the Enterprise comes across a war on a planet, where the casualties on both sides are all tallied by computer - if your number comes up, you are required to report to a facility to be liquidated. The system obviated the physical destruction of other types of conflict. This episode, of course, directly addressed the idea that cyber warfare can become a less destructive substitute for traditional warfare.

Feb. 17 2013 10:28 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Last year the BBC World Service produced a 3 part series of programmes about cyber security. They can be found:

Feb. 17 2013 08:46 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.