Generally we would shy away from "New Cold War" rhetoric, but sometimes it's hard not to draw comparisons. The ongoing cyber defense arms race and the establishment of an official cyber warfare strategy by the U.S.--and we all know specifically who that is aimed at--more or less smack of the old days when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. were trapped in that tenuous relationship held fast by the threat of mutually assured destruction. And now there's this: China Daily, in an editorial dated last week, is calling for a Sino-American cyber "red phone." All that's missing is cyber duck-and-cover drills.
Perhaps that's pouring it on a little thick, but a Beijing-Washington hotline--designed to establish immediate and direct communication between leaders on both sides in the event of a cyber emergency--is more or less a modern re-imagining of the Moscow-Washington "red phone" that ensured that in the event of a nuclear escalation there would be limited confusion and that leaders could quickly de-escalate the situation. That hotline was put in place to prevent a critical misunderstanding--the kind that could have led to global disaster--and it's really not such a bad idea.
While a cyber attack might seem far less threatening than a nuclear missile launch, the specter of serious global chaos is there. The U.S. has already clearly defined cyber attacks by a foreign actor upon American interests as acts of war, meeting the criteria for a military response. Moreover, unlike the nuclear missile arena, virtually anyone can get into the cyber game. That makes the potential for a misunderstanding--and perhaps a misplaced military response--far greater in the cyber age.
Officially, the Chinese state has been less than enthusiastic about setting up such a cyber hotline. But even as the editors at China Daily take a few shots at the U.S. for continually painting itself the cyber victim, they are talking some kind of sense: "With regard to cyber attacks which might trigger unintended cyber conflicts or even larger conflicts among states, China and the US should strive to build greater mutual trust by communicating more closely, especially in cases of an emergency, so as to avoid being precipitated to the point of a cyber conflict or even devastating military clashes."
Hear, hear. All nations have the right to engage in cyber defense to secure their critical networks. But while I am sure that justifications for war exist, I'm fairly certain some Shanghai teenager's best impression of Stuxnet isn't among them.
GET REAL. As if there hasn't been a secure 24 hours a day monitored hotline between U.S. and China for years. Lemme guess; there goes a few billion, right?
Ok idea, but how many tax dollars is this going to take?
the future is happening so fast that it is now.
Chances are, that'll be the first thing hacked into and destroyed when some small anonymous organization attacks us both.
The thing with viruses that attack 'secure' targets is the level of knowledge required to make that program. Stuxnet, the virus that infected and significantly damanged Iranian nuclear installations could ONLY be built by someone with knowledge of those systems, their programming, and their connections. Likewise, a recent virus that infected American drones could only have been created by someone with knowledge of military technology and the infrastructure of the drones. This is no teenager, nor is it Anonymous. The only reason Anonymous hurt Sony as badly as they did is because Sony's code had already been cracked and that was only possible because that code lives on the PS3 and has hundreds of connections to PSN (which subsequently made PSN *relatively* easy to hack). Its a completely different story for someone to hack a system from scratch, with no knowledge of its inner workings or pathways. Sure, a decent hacker can infiltrate or infect a server in Bill Gates' house or any other private facility because for the most part, we understand the general workings of those systems and with that understanding we can probe it for details and exploits. But like I said, its next to impossible for Anonymous or any other private group to make serious attacks against a nuclear installation (with very secure hardware/software) or hard military assets like drones.
Actually it doesn't take much more than a knowledge of long range rc protocols, and an ability to crack 30yr old encryption, to hack drones. They still refuse to update to more recent standards. Well within the range of skills for many gifted teenage hackers.
Its truly disappointing that it is 10 times more difficult to crack an Onstar uplink's encryption than it is to hack military hardware.
China's cheap phone would break.
They'd hack into the system.
I talked with a guy that had been arrested for hacking into bank software in the 70's. Why is this security issue still with us?
I wish in China it was a teletype, so we could annoy the hell out of China government offices for all the viruses that come from them!!!
Of course, I am just dreaming.... sigh.
Science sees no further than what it can sense.
Religion sees beyond the senses.