Sunday, January 16, 2011

Too Soon to Be Happy About Successful Cyber War? Updated

This NYT piece seems pretty triumphant about the Stuxnet worm that the US and/or Israel deployed to slow Iran's nuclear power program.  Given how well past victories have played out in the long term, I wonder.  The US helped our friends stay in power in Iran in a coup long ago.  Took a while to reap the whirlwind from that.  Things got faster as arming the Muhajadeen against the Soviets started to kick back at the US as early as 1993 and certainly bigtime in 2001. Is Iran not capable of developing viruses/worms/other computer stuff that might attack American and Israel infrastructure?  Our defense computers are constantly under attack from the Chinese, so perhaps we feel like anyone else is not going be as good or as serious.

Of course, others may attack us via the internet whether we launch worms or not.  Perhaps this attack on Iran's nuclear program is actually a demonstration to anyone else that they ought not attack American computer networks because we actually have a pretty good offensive capability.

All I know is that we have opened up a Pandora's Box.  It might have been opened by someone else, it might have already been open, its opening may have some positive consequences.  I am just not sure all of this was thought through.  Yea!!!  We stopped Iran's program for a few years.  But if it means that the lights go out in the western half of the US, um, not so good.

Mission accomplished? Let's not go there.

Update: Gary Sick, noted Iran expert, raises similar concerns here.

1 comment:

Brandon Valeriano said...

Damn, I just wrote about Pandora's box in a book chapter in the context of Stuxnet. Do I need to cite you now or something now?

The funny thing about the article is it seems to give the US too much credit. The article does make it clear that the UT boys gave up on running test P-1 systems and let the Israelis have at it, since they are more threatened by Iran they seem to be the ones who really mastered the old systems, wrote the code or at least put the code into the battlefield, and then actually inserted it into Iran (an actual agent would have had to get into the actual complex to make the worm really work). So it is not clear the US has the most offensive capabilities. Israel probably does.

At least I got to use the term harbinger in an article.