We are at war: cyberwar. Cyber attacks are becoming the weapon of choice for states, terrorists and criminal organisations. Through the fragile, interconnected structure of the web, anything can be hacked – from national infrastructure to an individual’s identity. The recent worldwide Ransomware epidemic, for example, affected more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries, targeting individuals and global companies including Fedex. The nightmare scenario of an entire city’s physical infrastructure being brought down by cybercriminals is well within the realms of possibility. As tensions escalate, will they explode into traditional military conflict? Or – almost as frightening – will countries wall off their internets to protect themselves, bringing the dream of an global, open worldwide web to an end?
To discuss this pressing topic, Intelligence Squared brought together a panel of the world’s top intelligence professionals and cyber experts: Jeh Johnson, former Homeland Security Secretary under President Obama, who led the agency during Russia’s cyber attack on the 2016 election and Jamie Bartlett, renowned digital technology expert and author who presented the recent BBC series “Secrets of Silicon Valley”, and Angela Sasse, a cyber security expert with a special interest in how humans interact with technology. Chairing the discussion was Radio 4’s Today presenter and former BBC political editor Nick Robinson.
How should the West respond to cyber aggression from hostile states? In the new fog of cyberwar, terror, crime and state hostility are all intermingled on the same battlefield. How do governments and international institutions set about regulating this complex new landscape?