IT Could Be at the Center of Future Cyber Wars

As conflicts and wars rage around the world, it’s clear that war has grown increasingly high-tech, but some experts believe that Cyber Warfare could be the next big battle ground and Reuter’s reports that computer specialists have suddenly become in huge demand in militaries around the world.

As we’ve seen recently groups like Anonymous have been able to attack public facing web sites of law enforcement, military, business and government around the world in high profile blitzes. The Reuters article says the Pentagon’s computers are under a virtual constant assault and finding people who can fend off the hackers is not always easy, especially since these folks tend to be fiercely independent, not terribly social and don’t deal with authority of any kind.

In other words, they don’t make ideal soldiers.

Last July, former Bush security advisor Richard A Clarke, wrote an Op-Ed piece for Boston.com, the online site of the Boston Globe newspaper, outlining the Obama Administration’s broad strategy for dealing with a potential threat of cyber warfare. He thinks Congress, the Administration and the American people need to have a more serious discussion about preventing and defending against possible attacks.

In fact, Clarke wrote a book called Cyber War, and in a video clip on his personal web site, he explained he wrote this book precisely because he and his co-author, Robert K. Nake, believe “Cyber war is real and we believe it deserves national debate and discussion.”

As hackers growing increasingly clever and their methods become ever more sophisticated, it seems that those in charge of protecting cyber-space are left forever to play catchup — not unlike what many of you experience inside the enterprise trying to protect your own data centers.

The problem becomes how to protect the free flow of information across an open Internet while finding a way to protect and defend the underlying infrastructure. I believe Clarke is right that we do need a spirited discussion about this, but for once, we need to get the IT experts who understand this better than anyone in front of it.

We can’t leave it to politicians who have shown just how little they know about technology in recent months, and how easily they can be mislead by people with their own agendas.

That means it’s up to developers and IT pros who understand at a very granular level how networks and programming function and where the vulnerabilities are to step forward and help create systems and programs that can help thwart some of these attacks without sacrificing Internet freedom in the process.

It’s a huge challenge, and if the Reuters article is anywhere close to correct, it’s going to require some of the brightest technical minds to solve. We have seen what havoc hackers can wreak on web sites, and we need the best and the brightest to figure out how to solve these issues or we face a future where the Internet itself could be the battle ground.

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