Evgeny Morozov argues that cyberwar is a threat manufactured to generate revenue for large government contractors and endorsed by the government because it excuses incompetence.

Recasting basic government problems in terms of a global cyber struggle won't make us any more secure. The real question is, "Why are government computers so vulnerable to very basic and unsophisticated threats?" This is not a question of national security; it is a question of basic government incompetence. Cyberwar is the new "dog ate my homework": It's far easier to blame everything on mysterious Chinese hackers than to embark on uncomfortable institutional soul-searching.

Thus, when a series of fairly unsophisticated attacks crashed the websites of 27 government agencies—including those of the Treasury Department, Secret Service and Transportation Department—during last year's July Fourth weekend, it was panic time. North Korea was immediately singled out as their likely source (websites of the South Korean government were also affected). But whoever was behind the attacks, it was not their sophistication or strength that crashed the government's websites. Network security firm Arbor Networks described the attacks as "pretty modest-sized." What crashed the websites was the incompetence of the people who ran them. If "pretty modest-sized" attacks can cripple them, someone is not doing their job.

I don't know many details about ongoing cyberattacks, but I do believe that the solution is probably more of the same thing we're doing now: virus scanning, firewalls, secure passwords, physical security, and awareness of social hacking.

(HT: TH.)

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