Ex-US general warns of growing cyber threat

December 7, 2011
Tangled electric wires are seen in Kabul in 2008. A US adversary would currently be unable to bring down the entire US electrical grid using cyber weapons but such a scenario is conceivable within two to five years, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

A US adversary would currently be unable to bring down the entire US electrical grid using cyber weapons but such a scenario is conceivable within two to five years, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

"Today, the likelihood that a nation-state or any actor is going to knock down the entire of a country, of the United States let's say, is very remote," retired General James Cartwright said.

"That's probably two to five years off," Cartwright said during a panel discussion at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies here.

"It's a very difficult thing to do," he said of disabling the entire US electrical grid. "It's not some 19-year-old sitting at a keyboard."

Cartwright, who retired as a four-star general from the Marine Corps earlier this year and now holds the Harold Brown chair in defense policy studies at CSIS, said cyber weapons can potentially have devastating consequences.

"A could knock out the electrical grid in any city," he said. "Cyber could knock it out in the entire country -- in milliseconds.

"And so that's the worry, that it could progress in that direction," he said. "And now you really are talking about an equivalency of a weapon of mass destruction. And how do we handle that? What do we do about that?"

"You can see a direction in which this threat could move," he said.

Cartwright also said that while the United States possesses capabilities they would probably be employed only as a "supporting arm" in the event of a conventional conflict.

"It's really more in the venue of a supporting arm like artillery or something like that," he said.

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Nerdyguy
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
""It's really more in the venue of a supporting arm like artillery or something like that," he said."

Got a chuckle from reading this. Cartwright is even older than ancient me, so it's not surprising that he'd view cyber warfare in this light.

But, it would be interesting to see what some of the young colonels and majors in the direct cyber command are saying about the reality of cyber warfare in the 21st century. I've a feeling "supporting role...like artillery" wouldn't be how they view their work. lol
kochevnik
5 / 5 (2) Dec 07, 2011
How about updating the passwords from "knockknock" and "password", Bevis?
Shifty0x88
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 07, 2011
Hah, we just had the east coast(and Canada) go dark for the second time(last time was 2003), and these were just overloads in the system. 2-5 years, ya right, I bet they could do it right now, all they need is to get access to the critical junctions(power plants) in the power grid, and once those are out the cascading failures will take out the entire grid. Oh and that's how the grid was designed. The fact that we haven't updated the grid and that we are using more power then ever is just an accident waiting to happen.
Hengine
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
This article has minimal worthwhile content.
Caliban
not rated yet Dec 07, 2011
This article has minimal worthwhile content.


Hengine,

Agreed. No doubt this is just a bit or advance marketing for the group of cyberwarfare contractors the general is being paid to drum for.

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