Defense Expert: Cyber Attacks Biggest Threat to Civilization

Monday, 19 Nov 2012 12:38 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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The biggest threats to civilization are not natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy, but the manmade menace of cyber attacks, a leading defense expert and strategist warns.

Gregory Copley, author of the new book, “Uncivilization: Urban Politics in a Time of Chaos,’’ says the overwhelming urbanization and electrical dependency of modern society has made it overly vulnerable.

“Look at the disruption of Sandy. Vast areas couldn’t be reached for several days. There was no power. Civilian infrastructure could not cope,’’ Copley told Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper.

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“But super-storms aren’t the biggest threat . . . Cyber attacks [are]. Cyber warfare is more capable of a strategic victory than nuclear weapons.’’

Copley, who is based in Washington, D.C. and is also author of “The Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook’’ said a cyber attack can “selectively target large areas of the urban population which is very fragile and energy dependent.

“You can lock down a loss of energy, water, and fuel and do an enormous amount of damage and cause a huge loss of life over short period of time.’’
And the attacks are no longer the work of a few independent hackers, he said.

“The holy grail of cyber warfare is to identify and nullify an attacker as quickly as possible, rather than deal with consequences of an attack on large urban area,’’ Copley said.

“This is a threat on a scale much grander than chemical or nuclear weapons.’’

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The most recent large-scale cyber attack occurred in Israel.

The Israeli government announced that it has been the victim of millions of attempts to hack state websites since the beginning of its Gaza Strip offensive last week.

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