A New Kind of War
The U.S. is losing the war for cyberspace. We can't let that happen
There was a time when an enemy of America would have to drop thousands of bombs to destroy our country's power grid. Now that can be done by a roomful of hackers.
At that time, it would take thousands of jet fighters and thousands of bombs to stop the mail at the State Department and White House. But the State Department email was hacked hack in 2014 so badly that its email had to be shut down for a weekend. Still, the hackers got all the unclassified e-mail messages which ended up in our cyber-enemy's hands.
There was a time when a foreign power could install a puppet president only by invading a country and defeating it militarily. Now that has all changed. Donald Trump acceded to the US presidency because of multiple factors, but the largest factor was Russian electronic interference: stealing and promulgating huge numbers of electronic documents and spreading massive propaganda (fake news) across the social networks.
All this adds up to a new kind of war. The good aspect of this new war is that no one gets killed or physically injured. It is not a physical, concrete war, but rather a virtual war. We can't see it or hear it, because the battleground is in cyberspace. Yet it has the same real effects of old wars. It is a war in which all the soldiers are unknown.
The United States is known to have joined Iran in this type of war. It uploaded a virus to the program that ran Iran's nuclear centrifuges, a program created by American and Israeli programmers. So, we are engaged in the new type of war, too. Wired Magazine, in fact, called the Iranian virus "the world's first digital weapon."
How do we fight in this new type of war? Well, we begin by curtailing expenditures for old-fashioned wars that we can't seem to win even with the largest military budget in the world.
Instead of increasing the military budget to $686 billion as the 2019 budget proposes, we should hold the budget to $612 billion and redirect $74 billion of that figure to cyber research and defense.
The U.S. should have rained down a cyber-attack on Russia the likes of which Putin had never dreamed of as soon as we discovered their meddling in the 2016 presidential election. If we had done that, we wouldn't have to worry about the 2018 elections--which they are already meddling in.
The United States is now lagging behind our political (Russia) and economic (China) enemies in the war for cyberspace. In fact, states with more advanced cyber-weapon programs can actually choose our presidents, if they can find a candidate so dishonest as to work with them.
We need real change in Washington, not fake change. We need a change of mindset to a more proactive, progressive one. We need the realization that networked computers have already changed the nature of war. We need creative progressive replacements for the people in the Department of Defense and the Congress who are trying to take us backwards.
Guest Editorial Harrisburg News-Patriot/PennLive.com, September 3, 2018