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Cybersecurity isn't a border-based threat, it's a viral threat

Kenneth Corbin | July 20, 2012
The traditional notion of warfare among nation-states is rapidly becoming obsolete

To a great extent, Hammersley argued, that will require social-justice initiatives that address the underlying challenges of inequality and the sense, embodied in the "Occupy" movement, that the game is rigged against the individual of modest means.

Asked about the emerging profile, to the extent that one can be drawn, of the future cyberattacker, Hammersley identified "the incredibly annoyed middle class white guy."

"The people I'm most scared of over the next few years will be the computer engineer in the suburbs who can't pay his mortgage anymore and freaks out," he said.

"If you're going to spend your entire time chasing the technological possibilities of something bad happening, you're missing the point," he said. "The point is it's the social causes of those bad things happening that are things that we can fix. That's what government can do."

For Hammersley, that encompasses effective oversight of large corporate institutions. He pointed to the recent revelations about Barclays bank having manipulated the Libor, the benchmark interest rate of London's interbank market, provocatively suggesting that it could be considered the "greatest piece of cyberwarfare ever."

"It isn't hyperbole at all I don't think to say that Barclays fixing the Libor was a form of warfare. Whether it counts as warfare under the Geneva Convention is effectively irrelevant," he said. "The effect was much the same -- they did a thing that made life radically worse for millions of people. And they did it on purpose."

He added, "Now if that had been done by Iran, say, rather than by Barclays bank, it would have been considered a major act of war."

In keeping with his thesis about the waning power of the traditional nation-state, defined by a central government and clear territorial borders, Hammersley suggested that countries consider designating ambassadors to sprawling global companies like Google, Facebook and Wal-Mart. After all, for a country with a limited budget for fielding diplomatic missions, does it make more sense to forge a close relationship with the Maldives or ExxonMobil?

"The fact that one is a nation-state and the other one is a multinational corporation is really just a matter of definition," he said.



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