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Cyber arms race will be next step in computer warfare, says F-secure's Mikko Hypponen

Any future crisis between technically advanced nations will have cyber elements
Mon Apr 23 2012, 17:50

SECURITY FIRM F-secure's chief security researcher, Mikko Hypponen has warned that we are entering into a cyber warfare revolution, and that governments will soon attempt to outdo each other based on their computer weapons' prowess.

The internet security expert said in an exclusive interview with The INQUIRER that any future crisis between technically advanced nations will involve cyber elements.

His comments came after hearing last week that China and the US have been engaging in "war games" simulations.

"I wasn't expecting [war games] so soon," Hypponen said.

"I'm surprised and I think it is a good move because everybody is worried about escalation. The way to fight unnecessary escalations is that you know more about how the perceived enemy would act if there would be an escalation. War games are exactly that."

It was Hypponen's observations on the war games which led him to remark that we must look at "the bigger picture".

"We've seen a revolution in defence technology and in technology generally over the past 60 to 70 years and I believe we are right now seeing the beginning of the next revolution: a cyber warfare revolution, which is going to as big as the revolutions we've seen so far in technology becoming part of defence, and part of wars," he added.

Hypponen also predicted that it won't be long before the world sees its first cyber arms race, including cyber war rehearsals to prove how strong countries are and boasting about their cyber skills to make other countries pay attention.

"Like nuclear in the sixties, cyber attacks are a deterrent and deterrents only work if your perceived enemies know that you have it," he said.

When asked if he thinks we are on the brink of a cyber cold war, Hypponen replied, "something like that".

"What we should be doing is cyber arm negotiations, rules for using cyber arms, and so on," he said.

"I think what we are seeing here with cyber war games between the US and China is the first steps into that...they are a good thing".

At the beginning of this year, a report put out by the World Economic Forum rated cyber attacks as the fourth most likely risk to occur over the next 10 years. Detailing 50 risks across five categories based on a survey of 469 experts, the annual study ranked a technological threat in the top five for the first time since 2007. µ


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