Why the Dogs of Cyberwar Stay Leashed

Thursday, 27 March 2003, 2:35 PM EST

As the U.S. and U.K. campaign to "shock and awe" the Iraqi leadership and population continues, as "bunker buster" bombs hit the Iraqi Presidential palaces and coalition forces attempt to disrupt the command and control of the Iraqi military, one widely-reported offensive capability is nowhere in sight: the United States has not yet officially used the tools of cyberwarfare.

The U.S. military has reportedly developed impressive offensive cyberwar capabilities, including the ability to use microwave or other electronic impulses to disrupt or destroy electronic components. If this is true, why have we not yet seen an all out cyberwar?

That's not to say we haven't seen any action in cyberspace. Sometimes individual citizens use hacker-style techniques to attack accessible sites associated with an opposing country's regime -- like "patriotic" U.S. citizens hacking Iraqi government sites. But a wartime military cyber attack would look completely different from these amateur efforts, and may use entirely different tools.

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