By Arthur W. Collins
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Additional info for Nature of Mental Things
This points to an important issue: the interpretation of the initial act of accessing a system by an unauthorised person or agent. The importance of this is that knowledge of a computer system’s function might be impossible without first accessing it in a hostile manner. One understudied element of the justice of cyber attacks is the relationship between the exploitation of a computer system and the knowledge that a transgressor gains of the system itself. The nature of protected computer systems is that a well designed security regime will prevent any attacker from knowing with any degree of certainty either the system’s function or internal architecture.
Whereas the concept of distinction applied to computer networks might preclude any attack, applied to the architecture of the internet, it may permit a far greater range of objects to be physically attacked. Early computer networks provided military commanders with command and control systems for the nuclear age (Schlosser 2013). The trans-oceanic cables that carry the bulk of data communications are used by the military in the same way as military vehicles share roads with civilian ones. In many senses, however, metaphors rooted in the physical world collapse when one considers the reality of digital networks.
1 This is because basic forms of exploitation involve the acquisition of login credentials and passwords in order to access a network as an ordinary user or administrator. Without such information, accessing a network requires the exploitation of flaws in software, and sometimes the manipulation of the interaction between software and hardware – the physical elements of the computer system itself – in order to attain access to the system. Importantly, all computer software is also physical, since it is stored on whatever hardware it operates upon.
Nature of Mental Things by Arthur W. Collins