Sixty Minutes ran a segment on Stuxnet and cyberwarfare in general recently (here's the clip, courtesy of ZDNet). There's nothing in the report that doesn't reflect information that hasn't previously been published elsewhere on the Internet, but they do interview some of the key players in tracking it, and a number of other experts discussing the potential impact of similar efforts with other targets. These represent the usual gamut of fear-mongering conspiracy theorists with extravagant, devastating scenarios.
I don't want to lend substance to the more dramatic predictions but I do want to point out that the acceptance that computer attacks will be an increasing component in state and non-state conflict is gradually entering the mainstream. There are real and expensive and potentially dangerous outcomes that can be associated with such attacks, certainly. But the point the piece makes that I want to reinforce is that the consequences, whatever they may be, are not going to primarily be faced by government professionals or the military. They're going to be faced by businesses and individuals.
Critical infrastructure for the Internet isn't run by the government. It's run by businesses. The techniques for attacking it are, today, frighteningly distributed, primarily across domestic computers run by private businesses and citizens. Although botnets may be controlled by malicious actors outside our borders, the actually machinery and code that will be involved is our own. In a hideous betrayal, our own poorly secured systems are likely to come to life and betray us. And this is not a danger that the military or some faceless government agent can protect against. This is a responsibility that rests on the shoulders of businesses large and small. That's not a patriotic call to arms, it's simply the reality of this sort of conflict. And right now, most of us are very poorly prepared to deal with that reality.
So the next time you think security is someone else's problem, that no one cares about your PC or your small business, consider the larger forces at work out there, and go upgrade your anti-virus!