Originally published in Wired News, May 1, 2008
On April 27, 2007, Estonia was attacked in cyberspace. Following a diplomatic incident with Russia about the relocation of a Soviet World War II memorial, the networks of many Estonian organizations, including the Estonian parliament, banks, ministries, newspapers and broadcasters, were attacked and—in many cases—shut down. Estonia was quick to blame Russia, which was equally quick to deny any involvement.
It was hyped as the first cyberwar: Russia attacking Estonia in cyberspace. But nearly a year later, evidence that the Russian government was involved in the denial-of-service attacks still hasn't emerged. Though Russian hackers were indisputably the major instigators of the attack, the only individuals positively identified have been young ethnic Russians living inside Estonia, who were pissed off over the statue incident.
You know you've got a problem when you can't tell a hostile attack by another nation from bored kids with an axe to grind.
Separating cyberwar, cyberterrorism and cybercrime isn't easy; these days you need a scorecard to tell the difference. It's not just that it's hard to trace people in cyberspace, it's that military and civilian attacks—and defenses—look the same.
The traditional term for technology the military shares with civilians is “dual use.” Unlike hand grenades and tanks and missile targeting ...