Regardless of whether the Large Hadron Collider, recently activated by CERN, is really capable of ending the world, having a computer system attached to the LHC network unsecure enough to allow hackers to gain access to it is probably a recipe for disaster.

What this incident shows is just how vulnerable public infrastructure is to the concerted efforts of the kinds of people who like to do public harm. Maybe disrupting the LHC would only cause the system to fail, but such a failure constitutes billions of dollars in losses. Imagine attackers launched a similar attack against a power utility or a hospital.

The answer to these kinds of problems is offense. No one will ever be able to stop some kinds of people from wanting to do foolish and destructive things. Civilized nations can, however, reduce the threat by eliminating the ability of those kinds of people to do those kinds of things.

In its own way, fighting a global war against hackers is no different than fighting a global war against terrorists (note, I said terrorists, not terrorism). Terrorists pose a real threat against civilized nations that those nations must counter, and they do so with offensive force. Hackers pose a similar threat to infrastructure and commerce, and the response must be similar.


h/t to Slashdot, though I doubt most of that site’s readers will agree with my conclusion.

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