In the current issue of Foreign Affairs, former NATO Commander General Wesley K. Clark and current Department of Veteran Affairs CTO Peter Levin write:
“There is no form of military combat more irregular than an electronic attack: It is extremely cheap, is very fast, can be carrier out anonymously, and can disrupt or deny critical services precisely at the moment of maximum peril. Everything about the subtlety, complexity and effectiveness of the assaults already inflicted on the United States’ electronic defenses indicates that other nations have thought carefully about this form of combat.”
Cyber attacks are the new guerrilla warfare, and as Google has learned in China, no business, however large or technically sophisticated, is immune. Google’s threat to shut down its operations in that nation – cutting the cord on its relations with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies and richest market opportunities – shows how very seriously the Web giant takes China’s actions. No company can afford the risk of continued exposure to cyber attacks that imperil the entire enterprise. If Chinese web saboteurs can hack the Google accounts of its nation’s activists, what might they do next?
As a former Navy cryptologist and current head of a network security solutions firm focused on the small business community, I have dedicated my life to combating cyber attacks. Despite the best efforts of the security community, these attacks rose 10-fold to 44,000 incidents of malicious cyber activity between 2001 – 2007. One of the key reasons for this astounding increase: The perpetrators are no longer just high school kids out for bragging rights on who they hacked, but highly-trained – and paid – professionals. When these criminals work at the behest of governments or related entities with a malevolent political agenda, the correct response is equal or greater force.
Whether or not Google carries through with its threat to close operations in China, the proposed counterforce of actually taking such action was appropriate and should be applauded. Frankly, it is high time that our own government took a stand also. Like it or not, this is war and there is no appeasing cyber terrorists.