Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not a game: the next World War to play out on the Internet

Posted by John Keller

Most people have been trying to ignore this for a long time because it's just too gruesome to think about, but the next World War (World War III, IV, or V, depending on who's talking) is likely to be fought on the battlefield of the Internet.

When the smoke clears, say bye-bye to your desktop CPUs, laptop computers, PDAs and iPhones. They'll all be gone, one way or another.

During the Normandy Invasion 62 years ago, only the civilians who were foolish or who couldn't get out of the way quickly enough remained in Western France as the Allies and the Nazis fought over a continent. Likewise, only the foolish or the unlucky will be on the Internet when the next Big One happens.

There probably won't be much to see online, anyway. When the cyber shooting starts, most Internet providers will go down as governments, utilities, banks, and big retailers pull the plug on their networks in desperate attempts to head off the certain waves of hackers and super computer viruses that will sweep over the Net like American soldiers who overran Utah Beach.

McAfee Inc. released a report this week called the Virtual Criminology Report 2007, and its pretty scary. I'm not convinced we're ready for the kinds of cyber warfare we're going to see in the perhaps not-so-distant future -- even with creation of organizations like Air Force Cyberspace Command (AFCYBER), which will be attached to the 8th Air Force at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

We're getting so used to doing our banking online, shopping online, even reading the news online like you're doing now. The next big war is going to change all that. We'll all just have to wait and see how it plays out.

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