Do Cyberattacks on Iran Make Us Vulnerable?
06/06/2012 3 comentarios
Benefits Are Great, Risks Exist Anyway. Do US cyberattacks on Iran protect us or endanger us? We could better ask if having a downed pilot paraded through streets of Tehran is preferable to cyberattack, or whether it is better to risk the losses that would accompany series of attacks needed to destroy well-defended nuclear facilities. With Stuxnet, there are no television shots of burning buildings, weeping victims or tortured pilots. The politics of cyberattack as an alternative are compelling, although attacks themselves lack the destructiveness of their kinetic brethren. The risks of Iran retaliating are not increased. The regime already blamed Stuxnet on the United States and Israel. In any case, we have been in sporadic covert conflict with Iran for decades, beginning with the hostages and embassy bombings, Iranian attacks in Iraq, and recent plots, using proxies to provide a tissue of deniability, against United States diplomats. Nor do cyberattacks against Iran increase risk of damaging cyberattacks against the United States. It is true that we are defenseless; efforts to make us safer are hamstrung by self-interest, ideology and the gridlock of American politics. But we are no more vulnerable today than we were the day before the news. If someone decides to attack us, they may cite Iran as precedent, but it will only be to justify a decision they had already made. We could ask whether the United States creates more problems for itself when it makes public a new weapon while potential opponents keep it secret. Four other countries can launch sophisticated and damaging cyber attacks, including China and Russia, and plan to use them in warfare. Another 30 nations are acquiring cyber weapons, including Iran and North Korea. There is a very old argument for disarmament that holds that if United States were to renounce some weapons, usually nuclear weapons, world would be a better place. This utopianism has a revered place in American political thinking, but when humans invent weapons they rarely give them up, especially useful weapons whose components are easy to acquire. Cyberattack is now part of warfare, no different from any other weapon. The publicity around Stuxnet may complicate US efforts to get international rules for use of cyberattack, but the White House decided that tampering with Iran’s nuclear program was more important than possible risk to slow-moving negotiations. Whether a covert program should remain covert is an operational and political decision, politics usually wins. Iran was not surprised to learn that United Sates is using cyberattack, nor was any other major power, and if you think this news is a watershed moment you have been sleeping under a tree.