What is Cyber Warfare? “Cyber warfare is a term used to describe the use of the Internet to wage war in the virtual world, often with real effects in the physical world,” (McGuigan). In the past recent years, cyber warfare has become a pertinent issue among the major nations on the planet; this issue has forced militaries, all over the world, to incorporate a new branch that is devoted to both conducting and protecting against cyber warfare.
Cyber warfare is also used to define attacks amongst corporations, form radical organizations, and/or attacks by hackers, who are perceived as being warlike in their intent. Most situations pertaining to cyber warfare are attacks from one “sovereign state,” to another virtually in cyberspace (McGuigan).
Cyber warfare is thought of by some as, “actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption,” (Clarke, 2010). Cyber warfare has also been called, “the fifth domain of warfare,”(Cyberwar: War in the Fifth Domain, 2012). Cyber warfare is a scary and unsettling situation for all nations around the world. The Pentagon even formally declared this type of warfare to be just as critical to our nation’s defense as any land, sea, air, or space operations. Methods of Cyber Warfare Attacks
Espionage and national security breaches, sabotage, and electric power grids are all methods of cyber warfare attacks. Cyber warfare espionage is the act of obtaining secrets (sensitive, proprietary or classified information) from individuals, competitors, rivals, groups, governments and enemies also for military, political, or economic advantage using illegal exploitation methods on internet, networks, software and or computers.
Classified information that is not handled securely can be intercepted and even modified, making espionage possible from the other side of the world. Specific attacks on the United States have been given codenames like Titan Rain and Moonlight Maze. General Alexander notes that the recently established Cyber Command is currently trying to determine whether such activities as commercial espionage or theft of intellectual property are criminal activities or actual "breaches of national security.
As for sabotage, military activities that use computers and satellites for coordination are at risk of equipment disruption. Orders and communications can be intercepted or replaced. Power, water, fuel, communications, and transportation infrastructure all may be vulnerable to disruption. According to Clarke, the civilian realm is also at risk, noting that the security breaches have already gone beyond stolen credit card numbers, and that potential targets can also include the electric power grid, trains, or the stock market.
Electrical power grids can be a method of attack in cyber warfare as well. In 2009 a report was released showing that the United States electrical grid was incredibly susceptible to attacks in cyberspace, which could cripple the nation by shutting off electricity for hundreds of millions of people. The report claimed that the grid had already been breached by both Russia and China, both of whom had left behind software that could be activated remotely to control the system. Although such an attack has not yet happened anywhere in the world, if combined with a conventional military attack it could prove catastrophic. Who is targeted by Cyber Warfare?
In the realm of cyber warfare no one and nothing is safe from these attacks. There are three major sectors targeted by most nations involved in cyber warfare. The major sectors are financial, infrastructure, and governmental. Financial attacks could disrupt the world’s major markets by taking down electronically-controlled commodity exchanges, or by shutting down web-based operations of major banks or retailers.
Infrastructure attacks can damage a nation by shutting down critical utility systems, such as electrical grids, or by wreaking havoc on others, such as opening dams, or interfering with the air traffic control system. Governmental attacks can shut down the ability of government officials to communicate with one another, steal secret digital communications, or release things like tax information, social security information, or other personal data to the public.
Many critical military systems are also susceptible to virtual attacks. As the world becomes more networked, more crucial systems become susceptible to attacks in cyberspace. Although certain military systems remain accessible only by being present at a terminal on site, the vast majority of critical systems that control modern nations are now tied into the Internet in some way or another. While these systems are defended by high levels of security, they are nonetheless breakable, and cyber warfare concerns itself with finding weaknesses and exploiting them. How to defend against Cyber Warfare?
Cyber Warfare Companies and Agencies
Works Cited Cyberwar: War in the Fifth Domain. (2012, July 01). Economist, pp. 15-21. Clarke, R. A. (2010). Cyber War. HarperCollins. McGuigan, B. (n.d.). What is Cyber Warfare? Retrieved Novemeber 15, 2012, from WiseGeek.com: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cyber-warfare.htm