The Great Netwar Scare

So today all the talk on the radio is about the latest computer worm, Stuxnet, which as the Washington Post reports, is the “first known case of malware designed to sabotage an industrial control system” (check out the entire article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/27/AR2010092706606.html) It seems this worm has been under the radar for about a year and may have caused an industrial plant in Iran to blow up, perhaps one of those doing the uranium processing for the bombs that Iran says it’s not making or has plans to make. (Ha!)  

Apparently Stuxnet is such a complex piece of work that all the experts think it has to have been created by a nation state, with the money, time and talent required. My first thought is that this a prime example of what RAND researchers called Netwar, with results potentially as crippling as a round of carpet bombing–I mean, this could cause the entire electrical grid of a country to go down in flames! 

You would think that RAND would be all over this, with press releases and information, I mean, they imagined this more than years ago. (see http://rand.org/pubs/monographs/2009/RAND_MG877.pdf) Instead, the RAND website offers advice on Helping Haiti Rebuild, Coping with the Economic Rise of India and Supporting First Ladies in Africa. These are all fine and honorable efforts, no doubt, but c’mon, this is really right up your alley and you can’t hit it out of the ballpark, to mix sporting metaphors? Think of all the research projects this could justify, why, it could be a mini Sputnik! 

Or maybe RAND researchers are reserving their best advice for the U.S. government… Or maybe Stuxnet was their idea to begin with…Stay tuned….

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