The Digital Arms Race: NSA’s Preparations for Network Warfare

In The Digital Arms Race: NSA Preps America for Future Battle, several journalists at Spiegel reveal information gathered from some of the Snowden leaks.

Reading this article was, in a word: terrifying. I’m familiar with Stuxnet (and if you aren’t, I highly suggest you check out the “Related” links below), but some of the other methods/terms are totally new to me.

Quantumdirk, Straitbizarre, Barnfire, Hammerchant, Foxacid: these sound like virus names you might encounter on your computer, but they are all tools used by the NSA.

But the intelligence world is a schizophrenic one. The NSA’s job is to defend the Internet while at the same time exploiting its security holes. It is both cop and robber, consistent with the motto adhered to by spies everywhere: “Reveal their secrets, protect our own.”

Stuxnet was not an anomaly, and really just an arrow in a whole quiver of tools. I think we all had a sense that this kind of stuff existed, but until I read this article… I really had no true understanding of what “cyber warfare” entailed. This is a really eye-opening article, and I strongly encourage you to check it out.

I’ll close with an incredibly prescient comment mentioned in the article that’s really stuck with me. Media theorist Marshall McLuhan, way back in 1970, said: “World War III is a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.”

[Image via Wikimedia Commons]

Politics and the Stuxnet Worm: A Declaration of Cyber-War
Stuxnet: Anatomy of a Computer Virus
Everything is Broken: On Software, Security, and All the Flaws Therein

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