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[ISN] Mutually assured destruction in cyberspace
By Victor Mallet
August 21 2008
The crisis in Georgia has not only stoked fears of a belligerent Russia.
It has also served as a reminder that a new style of warfare -
potentially as devastating as those that terrified previous generations
- is almost upon us: cyberwar.
Before Russia invaded Georgia, co-ordinated attacks were launched
against Georgian government websites, leaving internet servers
overloaded and disabled.
This was not the first or the most damaging attack in cyberspace on a
sovereign nation by agents suspected of working for another, although it
is believed to be the first to coincide with an actual war. Russia was
also blamed for a 2007 cyber-assault on Estonia, which asked Nato for
However, neither Russian computer interference with its neighbours nor
Georgian retaliation should overshadow the greater danger to peace posed
by a possible cyberwar pitting China against the west.
As early as 2003, China tested the vulnerability of US military computer
networks in a sophisticated operation called "Titan Rain" by the US. In
2007, China hacked into a Pentagon network serving the office of Robert
Gates, defence secretary.
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