What cyberwar is, and is not

There's a good long read by John Arquilla in Foreign Policy magazine this month. He argues that a concept of cyberwar he proposed some 20 years ago with David Ronfeldt "has become a reality," in that battlefield information systems have "profound impact" as a disruptive force "in wars large and small." But Arquilla goes on to argue that a parallel notion of cyberwar popularized by others-- "less a way to achieve a winning advantage in battle than a means of covertly attacking the enemy's homeland infrastructure without first having to defeat its land, sea, and air forces in conventional military engagements" -- is a bunch of hype-y hooey.


  1. “Bullshit makes the budgets grow and that’s beautiful.” – Principia Discordia DOD version

  2. Man am I a sucker for neologisms and portmanteaus like ‘bitskrieg’ and ‘cybotage’… 

  3. Cyberwar is an extremely bad idea. A cyberwar asset is not a desirable thing. Assets are internet vulnerabilities. Assets are people who have current experience in exploiting the internet vulnerabilities of our enemies.

    We should never stockpile ‘0-day’ exploits. It is not in our interest to preserve internet vulnerability. We should not stockpile criminals who devote their time to destroying the internet. We have too much to lose, and nothing to gain by this pathway.

    The people who advocate cyberwar are people who fundamentally misunderstand the internet. They wish an internet that marches to their control. The internet is BETTER when it contains our enemies and opponents. Removing or suppressing them, destroys the value of the internet.

    The way to survive is to treat cyberwar attempts as any other criminal act.


    1. As someone deeply entrenched in the infosec world, I cannot upvote the above highly enough; ‘cyberwar’ is the last final gasp of the people that never understand the fundamentally transformative power of what the internet is for human society. That ubiquitous information has become the most apparent species-level event we’ve seen in some time; it is indeed that “we have too much to lose, and so much to gain”.

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