The Pentagon is razzmatazzing you about those big bad Chinese hackers

A reminder is in order: The world has yet to witness a single casualty, let alone fatality, as a result of a computer attack. Such statements are a plain insult to survivors of Hiroshima. Some sections of the Pentagon document offer such eye-wateringly shoddy analysis that they would not have passed as an MA dissertation in a self-respecting political science department. But in the current debate it seemed to make sense. After all a bit of fear helps to claim — or keep — scarce resources when austerity and cutting seems out-of-control. The report recommended allocating the stout sum of $2.5 billion for its top two priorities alone, protecting nuclear weapons against cyberattacks and determining the mix of weapons necessary to punish all-out cyber-aggressors. …

Which leads to the next point: The media want to sell copy through threat inflation. “In Cyberspace, New Cold War,” the headline writers at the Times intoned in late February. “The U.S. is not ready for a cyberwar,” shrieked the Washington Post earlier this week. Instead of calling out the above-mentioned Pentagon report, the paper actually published two supportive articles on it and pointed out that a major offensive cyber capability now seemed essential “in a world awash in cyber-espionage, theft and disruption.” The Post should have reminded its readers that the only military-style cyberattack that has actually created physical damage — Stuxnet — was actually executed by the United States government. The Times, likewise, should have asked tough questions and pointed to some of the evidential problems in the Mandiant report; instead, it published what appeared like an elegant press release for the firm. On issues of cybersecurity, the nation’s fiercest watchdogs too often look like hand-tame puppies eager to lap up stories from private firms as well as anonymous sources in the security establishment.