David Lacey’s blog on The New Art of Warfare gave me pause for thought. I looked at it in the context of the proliferation of groups looking at cybersecurity, the Interception Modernisation Programme, scare stories about the Critical National Infrastructure and the Chinese People’s Cybermilitia. Then the penny dropped.
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When I was training as a cold war radio operator we were told that World War Three would probably begin with the Russians quietly mining British ports so that we could be brought down by food riots without the need to Nuke us – unless we (or the Americans) struck back in retaliation. It put the billions on missiles and tanks into a different perspective.
Now take a look at the equivalent moden day “assymetric warfare” scenario. China has a spat with Taiwan, The Americans put two Carrier Task forces into the China Seas. Walmart, Tesco and few other critical food/cash distributors then go off air – leading to food riots, civil chaos and regime collapse in the US and UK – before anyone knows for certain if it was an accidental power or system failure, organised crime or …
Is that scenario sufficiently likely to justify billions of dollars/pounds into cybersecurity budgets?
If so, would it not be more cost effective to use “aid to the civil power” to train and equip those responsible for defending the nation’s critical systems against all-comers – from mother nature and digititis (finger trouble alias cock-up) to organised crime.
If so, the first step is surely to begin by protecting the taxable revenues of the on-line gambling companies on whom the cyberwarfare techniques are being tested – very profitably for the equipment budgets and personal pension funds of those doing the testing.
Similarly should not the tracking, tracing and removal of those responsible for floods of spam and malware be a part of our cyber-civil defence effort?
Rather than plough billions into separate, hardened government networks would it not be more cost-effective to remove the barriers to investment in mainstream communications resilience – beginning with business rating valuations on the critical national infrastructure that do not reflect the fact that surplus capacity for emergency use rarely earns the revenue to cover the rates, let alone give a commercial return after tax.
Given that we are increasingly reliant on China for our technology, let alone the funding to cover our budget deficits, does not such an approach also offer the prospect of a much better way forward to an age of peaceful and profitable co-existance?
Given that the Chinese wrote the Art of War before the rise of Rome we should pay them the respect of looking thoughtfully at their strategy for “trading” (as opposed to fighting) their way out of their domestic difficulties. We should look through their eyes at the policies of those (US and EU) seeking to preserve Western consumption patterns and protectionist regulatory bureaucracies without recognising that we once again need to earn a living.