From Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It

Editor's note: Here's an excerpt from Cyber War, a new book by ex-Presidential adviser Richard Clarke (HarperCollins) that explores the growing cyberwar threat and raises ideas about how to deal with it.

Cyber war is not some victimless, clean, new kind of war that we should embrace. Nor is it some kind of secret weapon that we need to keep hidden from the daylight and from the public. For it is the public, the civilian population of the United States and the privately owned corporations that own and run our key national systems, that are likely to suffer in a cyber war.

Network World's review of Clarke's book

The entire phenomenon is shrouded in such government secrecy that it makes the Cold War look like a time of openness and transparency. The biggest secret in the world about cyber war may be that at the very same time the U.S. prepares for offensive cyber war, it is continuing policies that make it impossible to defend the nation effectively from cyber attack.

A nation that has invented the new technology, and the tactics to use it, may not be the victor if its own military is mired in the ways of the past, overcome by inertia, overconfident in the weapons they have grown to love and consider supreme.

While it may appear to give America some sort of advantage, in fact cyber war places this country at greater jeopardy than it does any other nation. Nor is this new kind of war a game or a figment of our imaginations. Far from being an alternative to conventional war, cyber war may actually increase the likelihood of the more traditional combat with explosives, bullets, and missiles. If we could put this genie back in the bottle, we should—but we can’t. Therefore, we need to understand what cyber war is, to learn how and why it works, to analyze its risks, to prepare for it, and to think about how to control it.”

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