Friday, June 10, 2011

Digital Pearl Harbor

[Digital|Cyber] Pearl Harbors
The three words combined has the power to make the population of security defenders growl in contempt.  There’s a good reason for this.  It’s symbolism and obvious American political connotations instantly put into play fear, uncertainty, and doubt tactics.

A military perspective has validity in the expression.  The Pearl Harbor attack was a surprise strategic air strike with the intent of delaying American response in the Pacific theatre.  Air strikes are used to gain dominance in another domain, such as land or sea.  This outcome is similar to how the US military defines cyberattacks (or CNA).  A digital Pearl Harbor would have similar intentions, outcomes and the same surprise characteristic as it’s namesake.  

Scenario:  State A invades state B, the US has interests in state B and is expected to intervene.  A “digital Pearl Harbor” attack by State A could conceivably disrupt logistics and supplies, communications, or other military operations in a fashion to adequately delay troop and asset deployments during the critical opening hours of hostilities.  Such a successful attack would be strategically invaluable to State A.  It also has the benefit of minimal costs with no risks which would be encountered if entering US territory.  I have zero understanding of the militaries vulnerability exposure to such an attack, though the threat side of the equation is presumably rather high.  This assumption is based on both the desire and ability for various nation-states to carry out such an attack.

When I see Digital Pearl Harbor catchphrases thrown around in the media by generals and federal employees this is my default interpretation and gives me the allowance to not growl in contempt at the usage of fear, uncertainty, and doubt but instead examine and evaluate the phrase in context with their speech or talking points.

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