Risks of Cyber War ‘Over-Hyped’ Says Study
“It is unlikely that there will ever be a true cyberwar,” said the report, most likely because no aggressor would stick to one class of weaponry. Also, it said, existing defences and the unpredictable effects of such an attack could limit its effectiveness.
The vast majority of hi-tech attacks described as acts of cyber war do not deserve the name, says a report.
Instead, trouble caused by cyber attacks is likely to be localised and short-lived.
However, it warns that governments need to plan for how it could mitigate the effects of both accidental and deliberate events.
“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.
Attempts to decide how to deal with the wide variety of potential attacks and attackers were being hampered because words used to describe incidents meant different things to different groups.
“Rolling all these activities into a single statistic leads to grossly misleading conclusions,” said the report. “There is even greater confusion in the ways in which losses are estimated.”
However, it noted, that even if a cyberwar is unlikely to ever happen, there was no doubt that the weapons used in such a theatre of war were becoming ubiquitous and would likely be used in the future alongside conventional weapons as “force multipliers”.
Under the heading of cyber weapons the report included viruses, worms, trojans, distributed-denial-of-service using botnets and unauthorised access to computers ie hacking.
“They can provide alternate means of delivering essential services and disseminate the latest news and advice on catastrophic events, reassuring citizens and hence dampening the potential for social discontent and unrest.”