Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden is pushing a strong defense, rather than offense, for American cyberwarfare.
In a rare interview for an upcoming NOVA documentary, Snowden said the US has the most to lose by taking the offense in a cyberwar. Speaking from Moscow, the man who publicized NSA secrets compared the efforts to exploit national secrets to bank robbers seeking entry to vaults. “In relative terms, we gain much less from breaking into the vaults of others than we do from having others break into our vaults,” he said.
He used an exotic reference to explain the damage from the unintended consequences of advanced cyberwarfare, which he dated to the Stuxnet computer virus unleased upon Iran in 2009 and 2010. The virus, introduced through an infected thumb drive, targeted the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, seeking to render centrifuges inoperable and thwart Iran’s possible development of nuclear weaponry.
The problem is two-fold, said Snowden in the June 30 interview: Others went on offense in cyberwarfare and some viruses are extremely difficult to combat. “When we put the little evil virus in the big pool for private lives, our private systems on the Intenet, it tends to escape and go all ‘Jurassic Park’ on us,” Snowden said.