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Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans
for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be
limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI
all over again?
(7508 previous messages)
- 06:31pm Jul 27, 2001 EST (#7509
Digital Defense by THOMAS FRIEDMAN http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/27/opinion/27FRIE.html
"With many dot-coms blowing up, it is now fashionable to
dismiss the Internet as just another tulip mania. That Internet
stocks were a classic bubble is without question. But the Internet
isn't just tulips, and if you think it is, well, let's talk in five
years. By then it will be clear that the Internet is a business
evolution — reshaping how businesses communicate, educate and
purchase materials; a social revolution — connecting people who have
never been connected before; and, for both of these reasons, a
strategic dilemma that we are just beginning to understand.
"Recently I wrote a memo that the Saudi terrorist Osama bin
Laden might have written to his men, after the Bush team hastily
withdrew a contingent of Marines exercising in Jordan following
death threats from the bin Laden gang. One day after the column
appeared in The Times and on its Web site, I received e-mails from
two Marines who had been part of the exercise in Jordan. They were
upset about what I had written and they e-mailed me from their ship,
the U.S.S. Harpers Ferry, as it sailed away from Jordan, to scold me
for suggesting that they were retreating.
"As one of them, a lance corporal, wrote: "We have not been
driven out of the Middle East. We are not in port, but believe me,
we are here. . . . Marines do not retreat, Mr. Friedman. . . .
Semper Fidelis. @harpers-ferry.usmc .mil."
"That's the Internet social revolution, connecting people who
have never been connected. In 2001, the use of the Internet by
companies to reach customers, suppliers and employers will triple to
about $260 billion worth of business worldwide. That's the Internet
"The strategic dilemma flows from both: the more tightly
connected we become, socially and financially, the more vulnerable
we are to any breakdown in the system. Did you see that train tunnel
fire in Baltimore last week? It burned some key network cables that
used the same tunnel, which knocked out part of the Internet in
Baltimore and slowed Internet service in regions across the U.S.
"In five years, with the Internet being used to run more and
more systems, if someone is able to knock out the handful of key
Internet switching and addressing centers in the U.S. (until
recently, a quarter of all Internet traffic passed through one
building in Tyson's Corner, Va., next to Morton's steak house),
here's what happens: many trains will stop running, much air traffic
will grind to a halt, power supplies will not be able to be shifted
from one region to another, there will be no e-mail and your
doctor's CAT scanner, which is now monitored over the Internet by
its manufacturer, won't work if it breaks.
"Why? Because corporate data, telephone calls and e-mail,
which 10 years ago ran on separate networks, are now all running
together on the same fiber-optic cables through the same routers.
This is called the "I.T. cloud" — a huge complex web of lines and
routers, where, like a cloud, you see your voice, data or e-mail
going in one side and coming out the other, but never quite know how
it works in between.
- 06:33pm Jul 27, 2001 EST (#7510
"The Bush missile defense plan is geared to defending the
country from a rogue who might fire a missile over our walls. But
the more likely threat is from a cyberterrorist who tries to
sabotage our webs. The more tightly we get woven together,
the more we become dependent on networks, the more a single act of
terrorism can unleash serious chaos.
Comment: Friedman speaks of a single
cyberterrorist -- but any nation state could generate
multiple cyber attacks, combining both code and physical
damage, and there are MANY too many ways to take the whole nerve
system down to defend against.
"What compounds this Internet strategic dilemma is that the
web is largely in the hands of the private sector. The U.S. Army
can't protect our webs as easily as our walls. What the government
can do is to cajole every industry in the private sector to improve
its network security, backups and information about cyberattacks to
make our relentless integration less vulnerable to a systemic
"To his credit, President Bush will soon unveil an upgraded
program to defend against cyberterrorism. But so far, the U.S.
government spends only $1.8 billion a year to protect our webs,
which, the F.B.I. will tell you, are already under daily hack attack
by cyberterrorists. Meanwhile, we are considering spending $100
billion on a missile shield to defend our walls from missiles that
terrorists don't yet possess and may never use. It will probably
take a cyberattack that causes real chaos for us to see that our big
threat is not a mushroom cloud but the I.T. cloud, and that threat
will come up the web, not over a wall."
* * * *
I was speaking of the vulnerability of the US's new "nervous
system when I wrote:
" On deterrance:
" If Hitler's German sociotechnical system had
been as vulnerable in 1939 as the US sociotechnical system is
right now Hitler, monster though he was, would have been
deterred. He was rational enough for that, and so was the staff
5/16/01 8:32pm ... MD4044 rshowalter
5/17/01 1:06pm ... MD4046 rshowalter
5/17/01 1:21pm ....
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