Collective facilities and networked infrastructures that are used by civilians and military alike have been a central target in war for as long as they have existed (Graham 2004).

From the water poisonings of medieval urban sieges to the attempts at total urban annihilation in World War II, means of movement, communication, obtaining water, disposing of waste, sustaining biospheres, and obtaining fuel and energy have been at the heart of struggles for geopolitical and military power between enemies (Thomas 1995). Such strategies have grown more sophisticated and more carefully orchestrated over time (see Pape 1996). As well as the 24-hour carpet-bombing of whole cities, for example, the mobilization of operations science by Allied bombing strategists in World War II allowed the Allies, within the constraints of bombing accuracy at the time, to try and systematically target Germany's "industrial web". This entailed an attempt at the systematic degradation of whole systems of lines of communication and transport, electrical power, and oil and chemical supply (Rattray 2001:272).

Two groups of factors are currently leading to a proliferation in the range, frequency and sophistication of attacks on the networked infrastructures that sustain every aspect of the functioning and development of contemporary urban societies.

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