Friday, December 03, 2010

The Cloud is Tethered to the Ground

All the talk of cyber-warfare, however important it is to master on its own terms and in its own "terrain," always seems to neglect that the internet is built on physical infrastructure and people who can be physically attacked.

WikiLeaks is finding that being on the cloud is not an absolute protection against the physical world's rules:

Wikileaks struggled to stay online Friday as corporations and governments moved to cut its access to the Internet, a potentially crippling blow for an organization dedicated to releasing secret information via the web.

The American company that directed traffic to the website stopped late Thursday after cyber attacks threatened the rest of its network. WikiLeaks responded by moving to a Swiss domain name, — and calling on activists for support. Two companies host the Swiss domain name, one of which is in France. The other is in Sweden.

On Friday, France moved to ban WikiLeaks from French servers.
Assange is also showing that the people who harm us online can be physically attacked--although in this case the example is legal and separate from his WikiLeaks activities. Assange and his comrades should be hounded in the physical world where they live. Like Krauthammer, I'm not ready to say that we should pursue violence, although if this method of attacking us is deemed to be warfare and the people involved unlawful combatants, we should think about a lethal option. At the very least, right now, we have to show these dogs of cyber-war that when they come off the porch to run with the big dogs, they get bit.

But the point remains that people can be harmed in the physical world for cyber-warfare. Don't get so caught up in the challenges of fighting online that you forget that hackers can be killed and servers can be shut down and blown up.