Cyber war, the strategic importance of the defense

Pierluigi Paganini June 24, 2012

I was reading an interesting article on the cyber wars I was attracted by the comparison of Stuxnet to the first nuclear bomb detonated at a site nicknamed Trinity in the barren Jornada del Muerto desert of New Mexico on  July 16, 1945.

Although the comparison must be done with the proper proportions, it summarizes the concept of information warfare that has become part of our everyday life. Suddenly the world have realized the danger of cyber weapons, their cyber capabilities and their insidious ability to operate silently in the years without apparent damages, the latter factor characteristic of the cyber sector.

The major world powers have realized the importance of this new type of attack, characterized by lower investment compared to conventional attacks and especially the ability to work under cover without having to seek the views of the international community about a possible military cyber intervention.

Just President Obama is one of the main supporters of this new possibility offensive, politically convenient and devastating as military option.

The dissemination of news about the Olympic Games project promoted by Bush and  sustained by Obama represents the consecration of the concept of cyber war. The states are investing heavily in the area, recruiting hackers even by the civil sector to build cyber armies to engage in continuous offensive, the American Plan X is an example.

News regarding the discovery of new cyber weapon will be published with increasing frequency, the real problem is to ask if the world is really prepared to respond to these attacks. The stakes are high, security is critical for every nation, the whole world must be analyzed as a monolith system in which the weakness of a single nation could jeopardize a balance on a global scale.

Wars today are fought with keyboards to the sound of bits, the scenario we are facing is extremely complex, on the one hand we have technologically advanced nations such as U.S. and Israel, on the other nations who are entering the cyber scene with aggressive policies such as China, or Iran that is investing significantly to attacks its rivals.

The reality is that even major nations today are too vulnerable to cyber attacks, too many governments are now interested in organizing offensive regardless of the possible effects on their citizens, this is extremely worrying.

Today there is no open dialogue between the nations on the subject, but what is more concerned is the limited involvement of the people on the issue, too many people completely ignore the risks of a cyber attack.

Officially cyberspace is addressed in every cyber strategy as a domain of war,

The Pentagon has recognized it as a vital environment to defend like land, sea, air and space. Another focal point in approaching the concept of cyber warfare is the involvement, of actors that were once out of power plays and political dialogue. Today it is relatively easy to train a group of hackers or hire cyber mercenaries to work on a project to attack a foreign state. The opportunity is less attractive to governments, but also for groups of cyber criminals and hacktivist. The event primarily Stuxnet, Flame then opened new dangerous scenarios, we are all aware that the tip of the iceberg.

Cyber attacks are unpredictable and difficult to trace, due this reason before to invest in offense nations must be aware of cyber defense sector. The discovery of the last cyber weapons has surely accelerated the development of similar agents all over the world. Today is quite simple to retrieve the source code of this agents o the underground market, this is very dangerous because new teams of experts could elaborate it to produce new aggressive agents.

R. Scott Kemp, a global security specialist at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs, declared that the U.S. should prepare to defend itself, but not to attack:

 “a Stuxnet-like attack can now be replicated by merely competent programmers, instead of requiring innovative hacker elites. It is as if with every bomb dropped, the blueprints for how to make it immediately follow.”

That’s true as dangerous!

Let’s me conclude with a statement from the article

“Just about everything that relies on computer code and links to a network could be vulnerable to attack: communications systems, satellites, security systems, banking networks, trains, power plants, water systems and power grids”

it is a perfect picture of today society, we all nodes of the same network, we must protect it!

Pierluigi Paganini

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