Two Internet incidents earlier this year, revealed only in October, suggest previously unappreciated vulnerabilities. In one, a mass of Internet traffic, particularly that with U.S. military addresses, was routed through China for about 20 minutes. In another, Internet users in the United States and Chile found it impossible to contact certain Web sites that the Chinese government has deemed to be politically unacceptable to its own population. Neither incident involved a virus like the Stuxnet, designed specifically to attack Iranian centrifuges. Rather, each seems to have made use of the basic characteristics of the Internet itself.
This is a very important difference. Governments will use Internet vehicles, such as viruses and worms, to attack enemies by penetrating apparently secure sites. That is like past attempts to intercept and decode radio traffic, or to tap international cables. Such attempts have a long history, and it is not too difficult to imagine modern equivalents of earlier countermeasures.