walking.25 In the case of enhancement technologies, Agar speculated that the priming effect might be driven by the stimuli of the technology’s function. For example, a prosthetic limb designed in part to serve as a weapon might have a subtle, ongoing priming effect on its bearer that would make him or her more aggressive.

3.3 CYBER WEAPONS

Cyber weaponry opens up a new dimension of warfare that may target critical infrastructures on which society will increasingly depend, generating vast increases in cost to defend and to generate countervailing attack technologies.

3.3.1 The Technology of Cyber Weapons

Cyber weapons are configurations of information technology (either hardware or software) that can be used to affect an adversary’s information technology systems and/or networks. Because such weapons are fundamentally based on today’s information technology, experts in the field understand the basic technological building blocks of cyber weapons well. That is, there are no “new” technologies that contribute uniquely to cyber weaponry, although new ways of using more mature technologies can certainly emerge. Furthermore, nonstate actors (e.g., terrorists, criminals, random hackers) can develop and/or use certain cyber weapons.

Cyber weapons gain their power and sophistication from two facts. First, the basic technological building blocks can be arranged in many different ways, and those arrangements are limited only by human creativity and ingenuity. Second, cyber weapons are generally designed to target systems that are complex and thus have many failure modes.

These two facts mean that cyber weapons can operate through mechanisms that are quite surprising and difficult to understand, and can thus appear to involve entirely novel capabilities (sometimes looking like “magic” to an uninitiated observer). In practice, these mechanisms will almost always take advantage of sometimes obscure or subtle weak points (that is, vulnerabilities) in a system or the socio-technical organization in which the system is embedded.

In addition, cyber weapons can be designed to be highly discriminating or highly indiscriminate in their targeting. As a general rule, highly discriminating cyber weapons (that is, weapons that affect only their spec-

___________________

25 John A. Bargh, Mark Chen, and Lara Burrows, ”Automaticity of Social Behavior: Direct Effects of Trait Construct and Stereotype-Activation on Action,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 71(2):230-244, 1996.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement