Virtual attacks could lead to war, says former US secretary of state
Cyber attacks by one country against another could lead to a real war between nations, said former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday.
For the diplomat, the world may suffer what it called a "cybernetic Pearl Harbor," referring to the Japanese attack on a US base that led the United States into World War II.
The same can happen as a result of a virtual attack, leading the target country to declare war on the aggressor, she said in a lecture on cybersecurity in Washington.
Albright, who commanded US diplomacy in Bill Clinton's second term (1997-2001), said he had come to discuss the issue within NATO.
"A Russian cyberattack against Estonia deserves a NATO response under Article 5," she said, referring to the rule that an attack against a member of the organization should be considered as an aggression against all countries of the treaty.
According to her, there is still no definition of when a virtual attack would lead to a declaration of war, but that the subject should be debated.
She also said she sees democracy threatened and that this is reflected on the internet.
"Enemies of democracy have flooded social networks with fake news and other attempts to interfere in the election," she said. "That was not an issue when I was in charge."
Albright said Russia is the main leader in this type of action, but also cited China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Turkey.
"Technology is not a substitute for political leadership. Social media can be used both to attack a group and to help solve global issues, "she said, adding that the debate on the issue is still starting.
"We are trying to fix a plane in the air," she said of the discussions to tackle cyber warfare.
The former secretary of state said that although she has become a user of social networks, she fears they are making it difficult for public debate to make people only have contacts with subjects they agree with, which threatens democracy, she said.
"So I started to listen to far-right radios when I'm driving in Washington to hear the other side," she said.
Despite this, she said she still hoped the situation would improve. "They always ask if I'm an optimist or a pessimist. I'm a very optimistic optimist. "