Misconceptions About Conflict in Cyberspace

For the better part of two decades, experts have been telling us that cyberwar is coming, or has arrived. In 2007, General James Cartwright, then commanding general of U.S. Strategic Command, declared in public testimony that “America is under widespread attack in cyberspace.” In 2010, former Director of National Intelligence, Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, declared forcefully in the Washington Post, “The United States is fighting a cyber-war today, and we are losing.” When such experienced national security officials warn us so bluntly, it’s absolutely necessary to heed their words. That said, policymakers must take care to ensure that the urgency required to deal with cyber conflicts does not create misconceptions that can only distort clear-eyed analysis or strategic thinking on the impact cyberspace is having on national security.

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