back to article Hack us and you're basically attacking America, says UK defence sec

Britain is splurging £265m on military cyber security – and that includes offensive capabilities, according to Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute yesterday, Sir Michael said the investment into the Cyber Vulnerability Investigations programme would “help us protect against …

Pull the plug

Instead of spending all this money, why don't they just unplug critical stuff from the internet? That's solve 99% of the problem

Yea, it would be inconvenient but this stuff worked before the internet became the free-for-all sewer that it is, so it ought to ati (mostly) work now

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Anonymous Coward

warning them not to target Blighty

I'm sure the Russians are trembling in their sandals :(

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

As the Russians show their force by sending their only Aircraft Carrier (and that one more than us) down the Engligh Channel in a show of force.

Diplomacy is a stange game and one where we have been involved with the Russians for centuries.

One of the hardest things to learn in 'the great game' is to know when to keep silent, something, Mr Fallon should learn pronto.

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"...sending their...Aircraft Carrier...down the English Channel in a show of force"

A show of force? How would you like them to send it where it's going? Overland, perhaps?

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Re: "...sending their...Aircraft Carrier...down the English Channel in a show of force"

The best route from their base in Russia for the Med is down the denmark straits and into the Atlantic. Much like the route that the Bismark took in WW2. To deliberarely divert and travel through one of the most congested waters in the world is nothing more than a show of strength.

They (The Russians) regularly send over Bombers to test our defenses. This is just the same from their Navy.

When we had a Navy (i.e before Suez) we did exactly the same thing countless times.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

As the Russians show their force by sending their only Aircraft Carrier (and that one more than us

You are repeating the Tabloid press and looking at it from UK/USA perspective. In UK/USA the carrier is the flagship and the main fire power element in a fleet group. Not the case in Russian fleet.

Only the Independent (rather unsurprising considering who owns them) reported correctly:

1. The Russian aircraft carrier a carrier ain't - it is an aircraft carrying cruiser (official designation) and is an ESCORT SHIP in this fleet group.

2. Its wing while not to be frowned at, is only a fraction of its firepower and is in fact predominantly defensive. The real bruising it can give an opposing fleet is from the battery of supersonic anti-ship cruise SS-N-19s it carries (these are nuclear capable too by the way). It takes one of these to get through for a Nimitz class aircraft carrier to say bye bye to launching any planes any time soon (even with a normal HE warhead). More than one will sink it.

3. The aircraft carrier is escorting the real heavy bruiser in that merry gang - a nuclear battlecruiser which has an even bigger battery of SS-N-19s with a possible supplement of more older cruise missiles launched from torpedo tubes, AA capacity equal to all British 45 Destroyers combined and capable of Aegis anti-ICBM duties too. To put it bluntly - it is a bully in the naval playground which can be taken on only by the yanks. The UK presently neither has the offensive capacity to take it out without resorting to "family atomics", nor the defensive capacity to protect a fleet group if that thing launches a full salvo (even if we do not count its escorting aircraft carrier, 2 missile carrying destroyers, etc).

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

Big shout on that....Bearing in mind the last time the Russian Flotilla in the Caspian Sea fired on ISIS in Syria using Missiles that a number landed in IRAN! That's not an insignificant error.

Also referencing attacking a Nimitz is a bit blood-thirsty, and even if it did you could measure it's future life span in hours (Heavy Weight torpedo's are even more deadly than ASM's), the US has redundancy in spades, and if you think an SSN or multiple SNN's isn't tracking these units you'd be a fool.

The Russian Navy has teeth, no question but if the Jaw that holds those teeth is rotten or weak it's a bit pointless. Last i checked Mother Russia's bank account was not so flush and a Navy burns alot of Cash when on operations.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

Technically all aircraft carriers are aircraft carrying cruisers, that's literally what the CV part of CVN, CVS, etc stands for. However pedantry aside, we could quite happily sink the Russian fleet with an SSN or two, letting water in at the bottom being a far more effective way of sinking something than letting air in at the top.

I did land on a Russian ship once, there was a lot of rust.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

"It takes one of these to get through for a Nimitz class aircraft carrier to say bye bye to launching any planes any time soon"

Well that's a big if.. Of course, a Nimitz class carrier is not travelling by itself either. Most importantly, it has constant air cover and satellite observation. Quite impossible for a monster battlecruiser group to sneak up on a Nimitz class carrier group. Short of a nuclear exchange, they would discover, like the Prince of Wales and Repulse, that a battlecruiser group that does not have sufficient air support should never attempt to engage an enemy that does.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

However pedantry aside, we could quite happily sink the Russian fleet with an SSN or two

Fair point - these are the only real teeth UK navy has left nowdays.

Quite clearly the Russians are aware of it too - the remainder of the group is several anti-submarine ships and both Peter the Great and Admiral Kulakov carry some Anti-SSN capacity themselves as well. The group which they will join has several more. They are not the Admiral Belgrano by any means - an SSN will have some difficulty getting into torpedo range. This is also the actual role of their "aircraft carrier" too - half of what it carries are ASW helicopters.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

Short of a nuclear exchange, they would discover, like the Prince of Wales and Repulse, that a battlecruiser group that does not have sufficient air support should never attempt to engage an enemy that does

This is the UK/USA doctrine resulting from WW2. That definitely applied in the days when bombers could dump a torpedo outside AA range and AA hit rate was in the 10% or thereabouts. It also applied in the days when artillery could throw 20 miles or thereabouts so an air carrier could stand outside weapons range and wipe the cruiser group out.

I am not so sure it still applies when attacking a fleet group which has 300km AA missile cover with > 80% kill rate supplemented by short range air-cover and proximity defenses. I am also not sure it applies if the fleet group has 600km "gun" range. Just it happens to be supersonic cruise missiles nowdays. In fact, this is larger stand-off range than the effective range of a carrier wing.

Thankfully, the jury is still out on which doctrine is correct. And you know what - I rather like it like this as convening the jury will be the last day of the civilization as we know it.

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Holmes

Re: warning them not to target Blighty

This just in, it's like I'm really reading something from the Japanese High Command complaining about Chiang Kai-Check.

"We are concerned Russia's carrier group will support military operations in Syria in ways which increase human and civilian suffering," Stoltenberg said at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters in Brussels.

"This group may be used to... increase attacks on Aleppo," the former Norwegian premier told a press conference after talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

I don't know where Chocolate King is coming in here, but I guess NATO has its hand fully preparing for an attack against Mosul (unavoidable civilian casualties) instead of worrying about Aleppo where our ISIS and al Nusra allies are in a bit of a choke (bad, avoidable civilian casualties). Yeah, I know, it's all about "Assad must go", which probably justifies equipping the terror dudes with TOW and MANPAD and letting them terrorize the population. Probably.

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Re: "...sending their...Aircraft Carrier...down the English Channel in a show of force"

"The best route from their base in Russia for the Med is down the denmark straits and into the Atlantic."

Going via the Denmark Strait would be considerably longer and would also be a deep-water route, making it very easy for subs to tail them. As well as being shorter, the English Channel route would be a very tricky proposition, bordering on dangerous, for a submerged submarine due the the shallow depths, strong currents and numerous banks; a trailing sub would have to break off before the Dover Strait, so you'd need another to pick up the trail after the transit.

Although traffic levels in the English Channel are very high, that traffic is very well coordinated and there's little congestion - the traffic keeps moving pretty well.

So whilst it is a show of strength, it's not just a show of strength.

"They (The Russians) regularly send over Bombers to test our defenses."

It's really just propaganda to describe the Tu-95MS (the only Tu-95 variant currently in service) as a bomber - yes, it's a cruise missile carrier but it wouldn't be used as such in any contestable airspace, such as border regions, as it's far too vulnerable; it's primarily used for long distance recon and SIGINT.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

"The Russian aircraft carrier a carrier ain't - it is an aircraft carrying cruiser (official designation) and is an ESCORT SHIP in this fleet group."

That's really just arguing semantics - the Admiral Kuznetsov is a 1000ft flat-top that can carry a total of 40 aircraft, up to 32 of which can be fixed-wing aircraft. For comparison, the Nimitz class carriers carry a total of 85-90 aircraft (fixed-wing & helis).

I agree that the Admiral Kuznetsov's primary role is as an Escort Carrier though - its SU-33s are primarily for air-superiority, although it seems that only about 35 were ever built, and they will be replaced by MiG-29Ks which, being smaller than the SU-33, may possibly increase the number of fixed-wing aircraft able to be carried.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

"it [Nimitz class carrier] has constant air cover and satellite observation."

Constant air cover - yes. Constant satellite communication - yes. Constant satellite observation - no.

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Re: warning them not to target Blighty

The SS-N-19 is even due to be obsoleted: It will be replaced with the 3M22 Zircon within 5 years, and that will be capable of Mach 5. Good luck intercepting one of those. In the meantime, the 3M-43 Klub is a more modern alternative, and the Klub-K variant can even be launched from a cargo container.

Then there's the VA-111 Shkval, which exceeds 200 knots underwater (it's a supercavitating rocket-powered torpedo). These have been in the Russian navy for yonks (the Kursk was sunk in 2000 by a bunch of these torpedos leaking propellant chemicals, due to lack of maintenance.) Of course, the Russian navy was in dire straits back in 2000 - but things have changed considerably, since.

Iran also has its own variant of the VA-111 Shkval (named the Hoot), too.

Perhaps this is why the anti-Russian rhetoric is being stepped up to hysteric proportions: The US knows it cannot afford to wait until Russia has weapons in place that make its entire Navy obsolete overnight.

But a war with Russia will be unlike any war the West has ever fought.

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Britain has managed to avoid ... targeted large-scale hacks

It's certainly managed to avoid finding any, that's not to say they haven't occurred.

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missing words

"So far Britain has managed to avoid the sort of targeted large-scale hacks that have seen big US tech companies such as Yahoo! see 500 million user accounts compromised,"

Of course some might say that after avoid you may want to add add one of the following

admitting (fessing up seems to be be very rare)

noticing (subtle attack / poor monitoring may cause attack to be missed esp if "just" data theft and no obvious damage)

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Can't help feeling

This is one of those "prime the public" statements they give out, so when the no fly zone over Syria is set up and things really kick off US-Russia they have a quick way to justify any UK involvement.

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Re: Can't help feeling

Smells like it.

The idea of enforcing a no-fly zone without a UN mandate reminds me of a scene from Shrek: "You and What Army?"

The amount of AA assets Russia has there even without the extra fleet is enough to ensure that nobody tries to go beyond tough talking to the press. It is either that or WW3.

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But..

"Hack us and you're basically attacking America, says UK defence sec" - really? Why would anyone want to attack the US via us, when history has shown that the USA has next to no actual security worth mentioning on its military/secret squirrel's systems?

Or did you mean that if anyone attacks us in the UK via cyberspace, we'll get our big bruv the USA to take revenge? If so, then again, the question is why? The biggest threat to UK citizens cyber secuirty (after our own secret squirrels) is the USA's secret squirrels, for one thing, and for another, we've plenty of competent IT bods in this country, why would we need American ones to rush to our defence?

I do wish our own governemnt would stop behaving as if we were the 51st state of the USA. We've way more in common with mainland Europe than we have with the USA..

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Re: But..

I completely agree with you.

Honestly that whole piece reminded me of that person who claims to be friends with someone "Big and Important" in a laughable attempt to make someone else stop doing whatever it is they are doing.

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Re: But..

He's a politician. Willy-waving is what he's employed to do. Don't be surprised if that's what he does.

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FAIL

o rly?

I'd like to see the US defense people's faces while reading that. I suspect they have a rather different view of the US-UK relationship on cyber security than the British government and it's along the lines of "someone attacks the USA, the UK must defend us. Someone attacks the UK... you're on your own"

(For sceptics, I'd like to point out that there is "form" for this - witness the treaty that led to the Extradition Act 2003, which means that the burden of proof for US law enforcement is substantially lower when extraditing from the UK than vice versa - US lawmakers didn't ratify the changes to US law, so they don't have to uphold their part of the bargain, but the UK does.)

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Pint

Re: o rly?

Very well said Sir. Have one on me.

It would take a US President with a lot of balls to send in 'their boys' to aid another NATO country.

Congress and the Senate would have a lot to say and would probably try to stop it in its tracks.

If Trump became CIC and does what he says he would do there would be NO US forces in Europe to help out. Sending 'Their Boys' 3000miles is a lot harder polotically than 30 or even 300 miles.

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Joke

Russian commandos take out Uxbridge

Like in the exciting Len Deighton novel "SS-UXB".

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Holmes

Power projection in cyberspace:Yup, we got a beamer!

treaty requirement for them to spend two per cent of GDP on military spending

I always wonder what kind of utter waste of perfectly good oxygen came up with this "requirement". Apart from the fact that GDP is double-accounting (because what goes on the credit card goes into GDP, too, even if you have to pay it back later, after the elections) and manipulated numbers, you don't just set military infrastructure and preparation targets by stipulating that a minimal amount freshly printed "money" should flow to the Armani-wearing gentlemen which happen to be waiting in the lobby.

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Meh

Protecting your eggshell from lots of people with hammers

"It is important that our adversaries know there is a price to pay if they use cyber weapons against us, and that we have the capability to project power in cyberspace as elsewhere."

Which encapsulates the whole problem. The Internet is so poorly secured that even spotty script kiddies can cause serious damage, and it is frequently impossible to identify who a competent attacker was.

It would be far better to strive to make the Internet far more secure against attacks, by improving the protocols as well as the infrastructure, so that they could not cause the damage in the first place, rather than rely upon "if we ever find out who did this, we will do the same back." BTW good luck if it was North Korea - how would the UK attack its virtually non-existent Internet infrastructure?

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Stop

UK MoD: "We're ready to fight it out to the last American!"

There's way too much of this going on. Yesterday, I saw that The Telegraph was running an opinion piece about how Barack Obama had 2 weeks to save Aleppo from the Russian fleet. (There's actually less time than that.) Then a couple weeks ago there was another Brit newspaper editorial that was brought to my attention, in favor of setting up a no-fly zone over Northern Syria. That suggested that yes, the Russians had aircraft in Syria, but they couldn't stand up to F-22 Raptors.

Very probably true, but the RAF doesn't fly Raptors, only the U.S. Air Force does. I would have much preferred that editorial to suggest that 40-50 Eurofighters flying under various insignia should be gathered, and then the Americans could be convinced to send their own planes to help.

If you want to avoid getting overrun by displaced Syrian refugees, take some real responsibility for your part of the world, please!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: UK MoD: "We're ready to fight it out to the last American!"

Yeah, maybe the papers should be printing more propaganda on why dropping barrel bombs on civilians in Aleppo is evil, but artillery shells on civilians in Mosul is just fine and dandy (because they're western bombs).

:/

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Re: UK MoD: "We're ready to fight it out to the last American!"

"...the Russians had aircraft in Syria, but they couldn't stand up to F-22 Raptors"

I wouldn't be too sure about that. Whilst the US has a good lead in radar stealth the Russians have quite a strong lead in passive optical IR which makes radar stealth a lot less important. Whilst the US aircraft will have a detection advantage at longer ranges due to being able to detect, but not be detected, by radar, trying to use that radar range advantage against the Russian aircraft will alert them to the fact that the US aircraft are present and are looking for them before they are actually detected, as well as providing a good indication as to the location of those US aircraft.

At shorter ranges the advantage switches to the Russian aircraft with their passive optical IR sensors and superior aerodynamics.

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Anonymous Coward

Is he an idiot?!?

No don't answer that. It's rhetorical.

On the day of a massive (succesful) DDOS attack, is he really saying no one should attack us because we're in bed with the world police?

Isn't that like saying "bring it on"?

Oh, and presumably he reserves the right to attack whoever he wants. With impunity, of course.

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Such is the future present perfect nature of reality ..... a mined mind game that takes no prisoners

And in the field with fields securing and transmitting intelligence information which is better kept as a closed circle secret for the greater enablement of a chosen few who be able to enable with secret intelligence information, rather than be more widely shared as public general knowledge, is it possible with IT and Media Command and Control to be both the best and the worst thing for happenings to humanity, and at any time and place of their choosing.

If you wear a white hat and deal in nothing but fundamental truths is everything never bad. Wear a black hat and deal in falsehoods and nothing is ever good. And the abiding problem in any dynamic equation is always the human element which be perverted and subverted to server crooked past grand masters in collapsing racist environments.

If Blighty [whoever she/he/that is] is not fully into and perfectly aware and au fait with delivery and exploitation of any and all of the above, are they destined to be catastrophically prone and easy prey to that and/or those who are.

Does Sir Michael Fallon and all that which props up and disguises government inadequacies recognise the fact and the enigmatic Catch 22 dilemma they are in and busily perpetuating should they not?

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Anonymous Coward

Hack us and you're hacking America

But what about the US hacking the UK? Does not compute!

Has he really thought this through?

;)

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Anonymous Coward

But if we leave our own windows and doors open

Then it's our own fault and the authorities won't bother investigating ;)

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"So far Britain has managed to avoid the sort of targeted large-scale hacks that have seen big US tech companies such as Yahoo! ..."

Evidently the plucky IT-lads in Britain's counterpart to Yahoo! are better at securing their systems than - hang on, wait a minute ...

In a way, you could call it security by obscurity, I guess.

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pfft..

"So far Britain has managed to avoid the sort of targeted large-scale hacks that have seen big US tech companies such as Yahoo! ..."

That's because people in britan are not so stupid to throw open there servers and say, "say wah you wanna back-door our Kernel Module with a buggy back-door spy module, sure go right ahead, what could possibly be the harm to our users and services? Oh wait dont answer that, how much user data got stolen from Yahoo's own networks via, what Alex Stamos called a blatant and buggy Kernel back-door?!?"

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Oblivious Secretary

Instead of waging false WARS and wasting money against standards and technology, perhaps they should embrace them and have a little bit more respect for the end users privacy rights, cast your mind back and you might recollect that version 7 Unix used UUCP also known as Unix to Unix copy which TCP/IP can't see and can't even spot, so that buggers the kids with NMAP scanners and IPX/PBX was another ancient protocol that never failed as epicly as "Transmittion Control Protocol" with a load of insiders influencing ANSI standards like Duel_EC_DRBG alongside there chums at Microsoft Inc, with there Singularity Project which uses SIP btw! Most Kid's today have no idea who the hell "Dennis Ritchie" even was or how he even fought for there freedom! PGP was developed outside of the US due to the US being backwards about a lot of things, they preach on about extremism yet, there country is home to the" Klu Klux Klan" and "Scientology" the let us repurpose your brainwave cult, about as right wing and as extreme as you can get! Oh and lets not forget microsoft's own deliberate errors introduced into MSDOS, Me, XP, Vista, 7 & 8!

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Armchair Generals

I came in here to read the hilarious comments, but instead find everyone LARP'ing as Admirals and discussing the merits of Russian vs American carriers?

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Coat

Its one rule for one and ...

Last i checked, our military spending was about 1.6% of GDP how can we expect others to comply with article 5 if we are not.

Also all this talk of if you attack us your attacking the US, smells very much like "my Dad is bigger than your Dad"

with no guarantees that Dad will come running when we shout.

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Anonymous Coward

"... westward expansion of the Soviet Union would trigger World War Three ..."

And yet NATO (and the EU) quite happily keep pushing eastward into former USSR territory and are now scratching their heads and wondering why Russia is quite literally up in arms.

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@ AC

"former USSR territory"

That's quite an interesting description. An alternative description would be "free and independent countries forcibly occupied by the USSR."

I think you will find that the people living in those places refer to themselves as; Estonians, Hungarians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, and Romanians. Not as Russians.

All independent countries, and free to join (or not) any economic or political association they choose, unless you ask the Russian government.

Amazingly, damned few of them are clamoring to join the "Commonwealth of Independent States", much less to be re-occupied by the Russians.

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Anonymous Coward

You're missing the point entirely.

Consider if the situation was reversed, that former EU Nations were joining a Soviet dominated alliance - both military and economic.

The US and NATO (in reality the same thing), would be up in arms saying how it was destabilising Europe. So why should it be different when former Soviet block countries join a US dominated military alliance and an economic block most definitely aligned with the US.

Russia always considered those former Soviet block countries to be a buffer between it and the West and with the seemingly relentless expansion of both the EU and NATO has given Putin the perfect excuse to bang the nationalist drum.

Since the fall of the USSR, the west has treated Russia with contempt as a former world power. What Russia is doing is now is simply re-asserting itself as a world power and the US and the West had better get used to it.

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This is ridiculous. We are told that Gary McKinnon acting alone from his aunt's house hacked into 97 United States military and NASA computers. So one actor without any state backing can compromise nearly 100 'high security' systems. But when someone gets into Hillary's campaign emails it's suddenly state sponsored cyber attack by the Russians. Really?

So like conventional terror attacks, perpetrators act without the sanction on their national governments and attacking those governments is pointless and even counterproductive. Thus we must conclude this cyber warfare offensive capability has nothing to do with deterring cyber attacks on against UK, USA but is just another weapon in the arsenal to use against nations who refuse to comply the will of USA.

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