Ultimate Weapon OR Not Much to See Here?

A former top defense and intelligence official contended Thursday that the most alarmist estimates of cyber weapons emphasize the wrong dangers. Joseph Nye, a former assistant defense secretary and chairman of the National Intelligence Council, said the “cyber Pearl Harbor” premonition of cyber weapons wreaking widespread damage including loss of life have yet to come to fruition. “Thus far, however, cyber weapons seem to be more useful for signaling or sowing confusion than for physical destruction — more a support weapon than a means to clinch victory,” Nye, now a Harvard University professor, wrote. The U.S. doctrine of retaliating to a cyberattack with either cyber or physical weapons might explain the lack of such devastating assaults. “Then again, maybe we are looking in the wrong place, and the real danger is not major physical damage but conflict in the gray zone of hostility below the threshold of conventional warfare,” Nye wrote. As such, the United States might need to take more modest measures, from diplomacy to training state and local government officials, he argued.

John Walley

John Walley

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