Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Intelligence Squared US podcast on CyberWar Threat

The Intelligence Squared US podcast has a good episode on the question "Has the cyber war threat been grossly exaggerated?"

The debaters were all top notch: Marc Rotenburg (Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center), Bruce Schneier (Chief Security Officer of British Telecom), Johnathan Zittrain (Harvard Professor of Law) and Mike McConnel (formel U.S. Director of National Intelligence).

The podcast is well worth listening to for a good overview of the issues involved in this complicated subject.

A couple things jumped out at me...

Bruce made the good point that the language matters. By even calling it cyber "war" as opposed to cyber "crime" we've made it a military issue as opposed to a police issue. Cyber crime is clearly an issue today without a doubt, but we still don't have an example, I would argue, of a true military use of cyber offense - as Bruce put it, examples to date are "kids playing politics."

I think everyone agreed some sort of Government help is needed to secure cyberspace, but it's clear there is disagreement regarding what part of the government and in what form. Marc echoed concerns I think many have (including myself) of the NSA being put in charge. All other arguments aside, it's a conflict of interest for a organization interesting in spying, and hence wanting to leverage weakness in cyberspace, to be put in charge of strengthening cyberspace (for an example, see the Clipper Chip).

Jonathan Zittrain also made a good point that if we want to do something, it's better to do it now, with relatively calmer heads, than immediately after a cyber September 11th equivalent.

Again, well worth the hour listening to.