Expert discusses Salisbury nerve agent poisoning and threat of cyber-attacks

Dr Rob Dover from our School of History, Politics and International Relations was recently interviewed by US show Knowledge@Wharton about the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning and the threat of potential cyber-attacks.

During the interview, Dr Dover and Professor Andrea Matwyshyn (Northeastern University) discuss the touted threat from the Russian government of retaliatory cyber-attacks against key infrastructure, in response to the UK's actions against Russia concerning the alleged nerve agent poisoning in Salisbury of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

“Offensive cyber operations fall into the same bracket of activities as active mis- and disinformation, the like of which we have seen in our elections and recent referenda. NATO describes these as being part of 'hybrid warfare' but actually they are more accurately described as being 'modern warfare', where low intensity, targeted operations provide a good quantity of strategic effect for modest capital outlay,” says Dr Dover.

He went on to say: “If we were to look at these operations through the eyes of Clausewitz - one of the key figures in military strategic thinking - they all strike at the soft underbelly - what he described as the ‘centre of gravity’ - of western governments, which is social cohesion, the western way of life, and public understanding.”

As part of the interview, Dr Dover expands his argument to take in the vulnerabilities we all have - on a micro-level - with network enabled devices (both personal devices and those in our home), cash-less cards and similar technologies, which have all privileged convenience over privacy, and make us vulnerable to concerted attacks from those wishing our nations harm.

“The threat from cyber attacks therefore operates at the national level and also at the personal level,” he concludes.

The interview is available below (Originally aired on Sirius XM Channel 111, Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School. Credit: Knowledge@Wharton / SiriusXM):

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