Pentagon takes tough stance on cyber attacks, plus the latest jetpack news

A satellite image shows the five-sided Pentagon building December 28, 2000 in Arlington, Va.

The Pentagon plan was reported in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. We talk to Siobhan Gorman, intelligence correspondent for that paper. She co-wrote the article. She says there's growing momentum to apply the same standards of military response to a computer attack that one would use in an attack using guns or planes or bombs. Obviously, the methodology is different but if the results correspond, the military response would be an option.

David Fidler is a law professor at Indiana University, where he also directs the Center for Applied Cyber Security Research. He points to the Stuxnet worm as the kind of attack that may be instructive in determining what would be worthy of a military response. Stuxnet was targeted at the infrastructure of nuclear enrichment facilities in Iran and it reportedly damaged a thousand centrifuges. "Now if you're thinking in non-cyber realm, that's an act of war," says Fidler. "If you do that with a weapon and it had physical damage, that's an act of war."

We also talk to Noah Shachtman from Wired; he's also a non-resident fellow at Brookings. Shachtman says while the Pentagon is focusing on the possibility of an attack to military computers, there are plenty of attacks happening on civilian computers all the time. He says, "The Pentagon may be comfortable with the idea of big catastrophic wars. That's something that fits into their intellectual construct. But what's really going on here is, it's not cyber Pearl Harbor, it's more like cyber South Bronx. If we're not careful, it's going to be a neighborhood no one's going to want to live in."

Also in this program, a New Zealand company is dealing with a fundamental jetpack problem: what do you do if the engine stalls out in mid-air? Besides plummet to your death, I mean? The answer: parachutes!

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.
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