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[] NYT 27.7.01: Digital Defense -

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na ja, die cyberterrorismus Botschaft ist jetzt auch bei Thomas Friedman angekommen

Gruß GS

New York Times
July 27, 2001

Foreign Affairs 

Digital Defense

By Thomas Friedman

With many dot-coms blowing up, it is now fashionable to dismiss the Internet as just another tulip mania. That Internet stocks were a classic bubble is without question. But the Internet isn't just tulips, and if you think it is, well, let's talk in five years. By then it will be clear that the Internet is a business evolution ? reshaping how businesses communicate, educate and purchase materials; a social revolution ? connecting people who have never been connected before; and, for both of these reasons, a strategic dilemma that we are just beginning to understand.

Recently I wrote a memo that the Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden might have written to his men, after the Bush team hastily withdrew a contingent of Marines exercising in Jordan following death threats from the bin Laden gang. One day after the column appeared in The Times and on its Web site, I received e-mails from two Marines who had been part of the exercise in Jordan. They were upset about what I had written and they e-mailed me from their ship, the U.S.S. Harpers Ferry, as it sailed away from Jordan, to scold me for suggesting that they were retreating.

As one of them, a lance corporal, wrote: "We have not been driven out of the Middle East. We are not in port, but believe me, we are here. . . . Marines do not retreat, Mr. Friedman. . . . Semper Fidelis. @harpers-ferry.usmc .mil."

That's the Internet social revolution, connecting people who have never been connected. In 2001, the use of the Internet by companies to reach customers, suppliers and employers will triple to about $260 billion worth of business worldwide. That's the Internet business evolution.

The strategic dilemma flows from both: the more tightly connected we become, socially and financially, the more vulnerable we are to any breakdown in the system. Did you see that train tunnel fire in Baltimore last week? It burned some key network cables that used the same tunnel, which knocked out part of the Internet in Baltimore and slowed Internet service in regions across the U.S.

In five years, with the Internet being used to run more and more systems, if someone is able to knock out the handful of key Internet switching and addressing centers in the U.S. (until recently, a quarter of all Internet traffic passed through one building in Tyson's Corner, Va., next to Morton's steak house), here's what happens: many trains will stop running, much air traffic will grind to a halt, power supplies will not be able to be shifted from one region to another, there will be no e-mail and your doctor's CAT scanner, which is now monitored over the Internet by its manufacturer, won't work if it breaks.

Why? Because corporate data, telephone calls and e-mail, which 10 years ago ran on separate networks, are now all running together on the same fiber-optic cables through the same routers. This is called the "I.T. cloud" ? a huge complex web of lines and routers, where, like a cloud, you see your voice, data or e-mail going in one side and coming out the other, but never quite know how it works in between.

The Bush missile defense plan is geared to defending the country from a rogue who might fire a missile over our walls. But the more likely threat is from a cyberterrorist who tries to sabotage our webs. The more tightly we get woven together, the more we become dependent on networks, the more a single act of terrorism can unleash serious chaos.

What compounds this Internet strategic dilemma is that the web is largely in the hands of the private sector. The U.S. Army can't protect our webs as easily as our walls. What the government can do is to cajole every industry in the private sector to improve its network security, backups and information about cyberattacks to make our relentless integration less vulnerable to a systemic failure.

To his credit, President Bush will soon unveil an upgraded program to defend against cyberterrorism. But so far, the U.S. government spends only $1.8 billion a year to protect our webs, which, the F.B.I. will tell you, are already under daily hack attack by cyberterrorists. Meanwhile, we are considering spending $100 billion on a missile shield to defend our walls from missiles that terrorists don't yet possess and may never use. It will probably take a cyberattack that causes real chaos for us to see that our big threat is not a mushroom cloud but the I.T. cloud, and that threat will come up the web, not over a wall. 

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