NEWS | Aug. 1, 2013

Cyber Defense as Environmental Protection: The Broader Potential Impact of Failed Defensive Counter Cyber Operations

By Dr. Jan Kallberg and Rosemary Burk

Key in the critique of the likelihood of cyber conflict has been the assumption that cyber does not lead to long-term and irrevocable effects; therefore it cannot be fought as a war. This might be true if cyber attacks are constrained to specific functions of a computer system or set of client computers; however, a failed cyberdefense can have wider effects than discussed in earlier debates of potential consequences and risks. The environmental aspect of cyberdefense has not drawn attention as a national security matter. We all, as people, react to threats to our living space and natural environment. Jeopardizing the environment, unintended or intended, has historically led to the immediate injection of fear and strong reactions in the population. Even unanticipated accidents with environmental impact have triggered strong moves in the public sentiment toward fear, panic, anger against government, and challenges to public authority.