'

Cyberwar: back to basics

Cyberwar has been big news this year, from Stuxnet to claims that China has a massive cyber warfare capability. But what is it, exactly?

Cyberwar has been big news this year, from Stuxnet to claims that China has a massive cyber warfare capability. But what is it, exactly?

In the rush to report the technical details of the latest incident, we sometimes forget the basics. So this week's Patch Monday podcast looks at what is and isn't cyberwar, how Australia shapes up and what the gaps might be.

"I think in its purest form, cyber warfare is the means and the methods where you use information technology in the context of an armed conflict," says Nigel Phair, a director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra and formerly of the Australia Federal Police's High Tech Crime Centre.

That definition of cyberwar would include something like jamming a radar system, but it also makes clear the difference between war and crime.

Phair reckons the deployment of Stuxnet was definitely cyberwar, because physical damage was caused to a nuclear program with military connections. And the 2007 denial-of-service attacks against Estonia were, too, because they interfered with the country's ability to operate.

Patch Monday also includes a look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone Sydney 02 8011 3733.

Running time: 29 minutes, 32 seconds