Thursday

September 20th, 2018

Blindsided

The genius of the long-warned-about cyberwar, now underway, is that unwitting Westerners do most of the work

 David Von Drehle

By David Von Drehle The Washington Post

Published Nov. 20, 2017

 The genius of the long-warned-about cyberwar, now underway, is that unwitting Westerners do most of the work

The United States and its allies are under attack.

The cyberwar we've feared for a generation is well underway, and we are losing. This is the forest, and the stuff about Russian election meddling, contacts with the Trump campaign, phony Twitter accounts, fake news on Facebook - those things are trees.

We've been worried about a massive frontal assault, a work of Internet sabotage that would shut down commerce or choke off the power grid. And with good reason. The recent exploratory raid by Russian hackers on American nuclear facilities reminds us that such threats are real.

But we failed to prepare for an attack of great subtlety and strategic nuance. Enemies of the West have hacked our cultural advantages, turning the very things that have made us strong - technological leadership, free speech, the market economy and multi-party government - against us. The attack is ongoing.

With each passing week, we learn more. Russia and its sympathizers have cranked up the volume on existing political and cultural divisions in the West, like some psychic version of the Stuxnet hack that caused Iran's nuclear centrifuges to spin so fast they tore themselves to pieces. They've exploited the cutting-edge algorithms of Facebook and Google to feed misinformation to Americans most likely to believe and spread it.

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