Cybergeddon? Not Quite

A number of senior US defense officials have predicted a “cybergeddon,” in which a massive cyber attack on the nation disrupts electrical grids, upends financial systems, and destroys or steals highly sensitive information. While these threats are real, cyber assaults do not approach the destructive force of nuclear warheads, said Andrew Krepinevich, president of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, in a new study, issued on Aug. 24. Krepinevich finds that a major cyber attack is more likely than a nuclear strike. To indicate their increasing likelihood, he cites numerous breaches in security, attacks on banks and power systems, growing cyber capabilities of state and non-state entities, and the cloak of relative anonymity that cyberspace provides. While the nuclear arsenal and modern cyber quiver are different, there is some strategic overlap, said Krepinevich. For instance, he said, “the competition favors the offense,” noting decades and hundreds of billions of dollars spent on missile defense systems of questionable utility, and similar difficulties entailed in deflecting cyber attacks. (CSBA release) (CSBA cyber study; caution, large-sized file.)