By Christopher Mims
|If you're afraid of cyberwar, Bruce Schneier has some other long words for you to think about. Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images/Attila Kisbenedek
Bruce Schneier, a legend among hackers and security experts, is having trouble convincing the world that the threat of cyberwar is overstated. In 2010, the year after the US launched a Cyber Command division of its military, he lost a public debate on the subject. And in October, US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said that the US should gird itself for a cyber Pearl Harbor. Yet Schneier is undeterred. Through countless essays, speeches and debates, he has tirelessly argued that what we should really be paying attention to is how we establish trust online, and failing that, what are the basic security measures which will help us cope with both cyberwar and the countless acts of cybercrime, cyberhooliganism, cyberterrorism, and cyberespionage that happen every day.
Data on just how much damage cybercrime occurs is patchy, but data on cyberwar is even worse because “there’s been no cyberwar, so the data does not exist,” Schneier says.
It’s an arresting assertion. Is it really possible, given all we’ve heard about the coming cyber 9/11, cyber Armageddon — and even a cyber Katrina requiring a cyber FEMA — that cyberwar remains a mere hypothetical? And yet that seems to be the case.