The future of cyberwar: really, really irritating

by Toby Manhire / 03 September, 2013
The Syrian Electronic Army's tactics are a sign of what's to come in cyberattacks - more annoying than catastrophic.
Joshua Keating has seen the future of cyberwar, and it’s really annoying.

Recent attacks by the self-styled “Syrian Electronic Army” on the New York Times and Twitter, which temporarily disrupted access to parts of both, are a sign of things to come, reckons the Slate staff writer.

As is the mysterious denial-of-service assault on China’s .cn domain, which some think is linked to the controversial trial there of former governor Bo Xilai.

Such salvos, bringing disruption and inconvenience, are likely to be far more commonplace than the much feared “attacks on critical systems” such as electrical grids or nuclear plants.

(When it comes to the US electricity grid the great worry isn't any nefarious outside force but squirrels, according to this entertaining New York Times essay.)

The likes of the Stuxnet worm that invaded Iranian nuclear facilities is not to be laughed off, but it will be the exception, says Keating.

“The cyberwars of the future could take us to some very dark places, but on a day-to-day basis they’ll mainly just be irritating.”

See also: "Cyber-terror", the shark week of defence rhetoric

Yah-boo Stuxnet

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