Cyber warfare: Huffingtonpost

Cyber warfare by Lt. Gen. Clarence E. McKnight Jr. at Huffpost World

I spent a lifetime in the military and, while I love the officers and troops without reservation, I hate the greed and poor judgment that motivates certain segments of the military-industrial complex to focus on technology without calculating the cost or impact on our nation’s economy.

A case in point was the great uproar about the supposed Y2K calamity that would befall our nation when we embarked upon the new century because computers allegedly were trapped in the previous century. Many of us were skeptical about it, but the greedy people hyped it all out of proportion to persuade our government to spend billions on automated data processing equipment that was not needed. It was money down a rat hole, money that should have been spent on real problems. I have seen this antic ritual acted out many times over the years.

I see the same thing happening again in the great uproar over the so-called cyber war. There are legions of self-proclaimed security experts out there raising fears about cyber-attacks and seeking opportunities to sell Uncle Sam more billions in equipment that we do not need and cannot afford.

Sorry sir, but you are wrong. Your example of Y2K is a good example of not understanding the domain. In 1999 a Lucent engineer released a patch into the MCIWorldcom frame system. We now refer to that as the Chicago Board of Trade outage. That sir was an example of what could have happened on Y2K. The fact we succeeded in Y2K is no reason to say something was hooey. Nearly a half month of severe outage on the main financial system frame circuits and numerous ISP outages caused by a patch. This scenario has been replicated numerous times over the years. a full third of the Internet of that day off the air would if replicated today could cripple the command and control of the military, decimate the economy, and create chaos as shipment and transportation were impacted.

The networks have steadily lost their resiliency and enhanced their fault modes. Sorry sir, but you are wrong in this case. Cyber warfare though not traditional is a possibility. There are so many places in your own career I would have you think about critical command and control enhancing missions that I would ask you what and where you would be without it.

That being said, there is hype and a focus on things that have nothing to do with the real risks. If you want to discuss focusing on offensive weapons instead of good hygiene, if you want to discuss the relative absence of risk assessment and management from evidence, or the abysmal capabilities of the military information technology realm. Why we could have what might be a wonderful discussion. In fact feel free to look me up and I’ll buy the first round of Scotch. I think we ignore the real risk to focus on the risks that have a profit motive. It might be a neat discussion.

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