A new cyber arms race

President Barack Obama has been announcing his plans for a national co-ordinated approach to cyber security that may even include an offensive cyber warfare command within the US military

  • E-Mail
By  Mark Sutton Published  June 2, 2009

President Barack Obama has been announcing his plans for a national co-ordinated approach to cyber security that may even include an offensive cyber warfare command within the US military.

The US govt is proposing to spend billions on cyber security, classing it as a "strategic national asset".

Details are still scarce, and while George Bush also made big noises on cyber security, and then did nothing, at least Obama can probably spell 'cyber', and the signs are that he's taking the situation seriously.

One sign that this is a genuine move is that the US military corporations are said to be falling over themselves to set up or beef up their cyber war operations, with the likes of Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and Raytheon all landing 'cyber contracts' with the US government, according to a New York Times report.

It's long past time that the US took steps to protect its infrastructure, after a number of high profile attacks, including a supposed hack of the US power grid by Chinese and Russians hackers, general acknowledged as leaders in the field of cyber warfare.

But if the US is ramping up for a new cyber arms race, what about the other would-be 21st century knowledge-based economies? Plenty of countries around the Middle East have invested in infrastructure and made noises about knowledge economies, but the level of preparedness for cyber security doesn't match that of developed markets. A few CERTs have been announced, but these are mainly still establishing themselves.

This is worrying. If the problems with undersea cables connecting the region show us one thing, its the overall vulnerability of the region's infrastructure. Regional leaders might think they are under the radar of hackers, and that big targets like the US and EU have the most to fear, but we've seen again and again that hackers are happy to cross ideological and geographic boundaries and can act on all sorts of different motivation - there are as many threats as there are different political standpoints. Especially if the larger nations harden their systems, we might see even more focus from criminally and politically motivated hackers on smaller, more vulnerable nations. The Gulf needs to prepare itself for the next wave of cyber warfare just as much as anywhere else in the world.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code