Wednesday, January 19, 2011

OECD Study: An Actual Pure Cyberwar is Improbable

Via -

Conducted on behalf of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a study has found that a cyberwar conducted solely via the internet between states is very improbable. The authors believe that most crucial systems are simply too well protected. While attacks on systems such as the one involving Stuxnet can be successful, they have to be carefully targeted and limited – and the effects have to be calculated exactly.

The study finds that the term "cyberwar" is now "overhyped" as it is used for all kinds of things, including activities that used to fall under the category of espionage or sabotage. Indeed, Denial of Service (DoS) attacks related to WikiLeaks have also been called cyberwar even though they only constituted blockades.

Conducted by the University of Oxford and the London School of Economics, the study explains that cyberwar is properly understood as targeted attacks on critical infrastructures in combination with conventional attacks. And the best protection from such attacks is careful system design and setup.

The authors do, however, believe that it would be hard to take a purely military approach in protecting systems. After all, the targets are generally found in the private sector: transport, energy and water supply, and financial markets. Furthermore, the threat of counterattacks will hardly scare off attackers because it is generally hard to know who the attackers are.

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