Gongol.com Archives: March 2022
The virtual battlefield has become a more challenging place lately, with cyberattacks increasing by 25% in the course of just two weeks. That's a painfully large increase -- and it's hard to imagine that cyber-defense spending has also increased by 25% in the same time, though it undoubtedly will need to do so. ■ It has been noted in some places that full-scale cyberwarfare seems not to have broken out (perhaps only "not yet") between Russia and Ukraine, despite the open warfare taking place on the ground. But there's nothing necessarily paradoxical about a war of kinetic arms heating up at a different pace than that of a cyberwar. Nor is it necessarily inconsistent that the global pace of cyberattacks would rise during a time of real-world fighting on the ground in one particular country. ■ What both observations taken together ought to teach us is a twofold lesson: First, we need to take engagements in the digital arena quite seriously, and moreso than we have been forced to do in the past. ■ Second, we need to face seriously the need to marshal at least some of our cyber defenses under a distinct branch of our Department of Defense. Cyber-defense clearly behaves differently than a land war between a pair of belligerent powers. Non-combatant countries, their citizens, and their public and private sectors alike can all become targets or collateral damage, even if no war is declared and they scrupulously avoid being drawn into a legal definition of participation in battle. ■ The separation of the US Air Force from the Army was essential not just to its identity but to its ability to develop a distinctive doctrine, culture, and array of resources. The ghost of Billy Mitchell ought to whisper in our ears about cybersecurity, too. It is a distinctive form of hostilities, involving a different scope of consequences, a different field of battle, and sometimes vastly different combatants than conventional warfare. ■ The evidence of the decoupling of cyber warfare from kinetic warfare is overwhelming. The logical step to take is to acknowledge that break: If we have room to create a Space Force, we ought to be well past the time for a Cyber Force.
The law of unintended consequences is exactly what ought to make most thoughtful people into chronic skeptics of concentrated power in general and of government interventions in particular. It's easy to find wants. It's much harder to carefully use the levers of authority to get them without causing collateral damage.