Political cyber-war

Coming soon to a blog-site near you?

Last night the Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal” blog was shut down by what I’m told was a deliberate attack. It’s back up now, but both Atrios and Brad DeLong are still down. [UPDATE: At least, they are for me. Others report being able to access them.] Coincidence, or a pattern? I can’t imagine any particular political reason for people to want to shut down liberal blog-sites right now. Maybe there’s some other common factor at work.

Whether or not anything in particular is happening to liberal blogspace right now, there’s a larger question here.

Apparently Iranian dissidents have been deploying DDoS attacks against regime-affiliated websites. In the situation they face, of course, almost any tactic is justified. (Though Americans participating in such activity may be violating U.S. law.) But it occurs to me that we may have to get used to a political world in which hacking joins push-polling as a disreputable but sometimes effective tactic. Yes, there are laws against it, but catching cyber-bad-guys is hard, and linking them back to the political forces that employ them will be even harder.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com