Back to one of my other favorite topics… cyber-security. Almost all countries are looking more to the Internet and global networks as a defense perimeter, here’s an example of what Australia is doing courtesy of the Register.
Australia is tooling up for a “long, persistent fight” online, and believes digital combat will be as important to the nation’s future security as involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan were in the last decade.
No less a figure that Prime Minister Julia Gillard expressed that opinion today in a speech billed as a landmark security policy pronouncement that had as its premise the assertion that “The 9/11 decade is ending and a new one is taking its place.”
To ready the nation for coming online battles, Gillard said Australia will combine the infosec functions of several agencies – the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Defence Force, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission – in a single location to operate as the new Australian Cyber Security Centre. The new operation should be up and running by year’s end.
This is a good example of how the old definition of military-industrial complex is changing with the advent of computers on every belt. There’s a strong chance that the next true global war will begin with a significant computer attack on a country rather than a physical attack. Likely a strike to the power or transportation grids would do more to cripple a country than a strike from a carrier-based force or even a missile attack. I’d expect that we’ll see more strengthening of the defenses that are public, which likely means significantly more clandestine efforts in this area.
The impact on business should be more interesting. Defense contracting is already doing significantly more in the security area, and I would expect that computer hacking will be a skill that will increase in desirability for government contracts in the near future. While we would think this fares well for the US, we have to remember that the top 1% of students in China are roughly equal to the entire US student population, and that it’s much easier to drive a set of dedicated students into technology when you’re the one writing the tests for them. Keep an eye on the computer attacks going on, since a big one is going to hit sometime soon.