Cyberwar: reality, or a weapon of mass distraction?

Andrew Lee ESET

Over the last few years, in its insatiable thirst for the new, the security industry has increasingly co-opted military terminology for its marketing, and in return obliging government and military offices (particularly, but not exclusively in the western world) have predicted dire and terrifying scenarios. Couching the threats in the terms of modern warfare, spiced with the magic of 'Cyber', security wonks insist we exist in a new world of CyberWar, CyberTerrorism, CyberAttacks and CyberEspionage where devastation and carnage to our most sacred institutions lurk only a mouse-click away.

Following these now well worn mantras, nation states are gearing up their budgets and their personnel to track, mitigate, offensively counter and defeat these 'new' threats. But where is the evidence? Do we really exist in this strange new world, where we must add to the usual loosely amalgamated mix of malware authors, criminals, hactivists, jihobbyists and straight up vandals the spectre of sinister hacker cells deployed by nation states? Or, are these ideas simply a case of paranoia fuelled by undirected angst about real-world, boots-on-the-ground warfare and the endless 'wars' on drugs and terror? Is security dialogue being hijacked by hype and political expediency? Perhaps the constant exposure to the fantasy and science fiction novels so beloved of the uber-geek has fed into the security industry's hero complex wherein we become the fantastical knights in shining armour (or long leather coat, depending on your milieu), deploying our Low Orbit Ion Cannons against the evil (but faceless) phantoms of the global military industrial complex.

This presentation will take a no-holds-barred, highly opinionated and doubtlessly controversial look at the modern malware industrial complex to examine these important questions.


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