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Cyber Warfare Examples Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 1621 words Published: 6th Jul 2017

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“Information Warfare,in its most fundamental sense, is the emerging theatre in which future nation-against-nation conflict at the strategic level is most likely to occur.”
– George J. Stein, Cyber War, 2000

Cyberwar is the newest subset of information warfare, which needs no battlefield and is fought in cyberspace. Cyberspace includes information itself, the communication nets that move it, and the computers that make it useful. Cyberspace can be influenced and at times dominated by anyone possessing inexpensive computers linked into existing global communication nets [1] . The present information era offers modern tools to conduct seamless operations with utmost speed [2] . It is essentially trying to deny the enemy the advantage of force, time and space that come with the use of modern information technologies.

Cyber Warfare may be defined as “Any act intended to compel an opponent to fulfill our national will, executed against the software controlling processes within an opponent’s system. It includes the following modes of cyber attack: cyber infiltration, cyber manipulation, cyber assault, and cyber raid [3] “.

In present day battle field, forces exchange digital data for real time use using networks. Developments in the field of tele-communications, computer networking, image processing, miniaturization of electronics etc. has given a new impetus to the exploitation of the Information for Warfare. For all future conflicts, Cyber warfare would form one of the spheres of military operations in addition to the other four spheres i.e. land, air, sea and space.

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Military attack in the form of a cyber network attack is irregular in nature. It is extremely cheap, is very fast, can be carried out anonymously, and can disrupt or deny critical services precisely at the moment of maximum peril. Advances in technology over the past several decades have enabled cyber warfare to become a viable strategic tool. Details on cyber warfare are sensitive and all nations hold those closely.

According to Jeffrey Carr, author of “Inside Cyber Warfare,” any country can wage cyberwar on any other country, irrespective of resources, because most military forces are network-centric and connected to the Internet, which is not secure. For the same reason, non-governmental groups and individuals could also launch cyberwarfare attacks.

Cyber warfare in the civil domain is Internet-based conflict involving politically motivated attacks on information and information systems. Such attacks can disable official websites and networks, disrupt or disable essential services, steal or alter classified data, and cripple financial systems, among many other possibilities.

The majority of computers, their operating systems and software purchased by the military services are commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, often manufactured abroad due to cheaper cost. Thus, foreign countries could place hidden components inside the computers, making the computers vulnerable for attack and/or spying.

Examples of Cyber warfare.

In 1998, the United States hacked into Serbia’s air defense system to compromise air traffic control and facilitate the bombing of Serbian targets.

In 2007, in Estonia, a botnet of over a million computers brought down government, business and media websites across the country. The attack was suspected to have originated in Russia, motivated by political tension between the two countries.

Also in 2007, an unknown foreign party hacked into high tech and military agencies in the United States and downloaded terabytes of information.

In 2009, a cyber spy network called “GhostNet” accessed confidential information belonging to both governmental and private organizations in over 100 countries around the world. GhostNet was reported to originate in China, although that country denied responsibility.

The most effective protection against cyberwarfare attacks is securing information and networks. Security updates should be applied to all systems — including those that are not considered critical — because any vulnerable system can be co-opted and used to carry out attacks. Measures to mitigate the potential damage of an attack include comprehensive disaster recovery planning that includes provisions for extended outages.

It is tempting for policymakers to view cyberwarfare as an abstract future threat. After all, the national security establishment understands traditional military threats much better than it does virtual enemies. The problem is that an electronic attack can be large, widespread, and sudden – far beyond the capabilities of conventional predictive models to anticipate.

Cyber warfare is here to stay on the long run and it will be growing in the set of solutions our military has for the future. We’ve have already seen this demonstrated in some of the wars in the Middle East. As we’ve heard in the press, the attacks by the United States have been to disable communications, to cause confusion in the command and control structure of the adversary before a follow- on assault.

1991 Gulf War: An Early Cyber Conflict. The first major U.S. conflict involving computer warfare was the 1991 war against Iraq. The Pentagon does not offer specific details as to what was done, but reports have asserted that Baghdad’s air defense radar and other systems were targeted by U.S. cyber warriors.

A Case for Cyber Breach

Every day, millions of automated network scans originating from foreign sources search Indian computers for unprotected communications ports, the built-in channels found in even the most inexpensive personal computers.

Breaches of cyber security and data theft have plagued the US as well: in 2006, between 10 and 20 terabytes of data – equivalent to the contents of approximately 100 laptop hard drives were illegally downloaded from the Pentagon’s non-classified network, and the State Department suffered similarly large losses the same year.

The emergence of so-called peer-to-peer (p2p) networks poses yet another threat. These networks are temporary on demand connections that are terminated once the data service has been provided or the requested content delivered, much like a telephone call. From a security perspective, P2P networks offer an easy way to disguise illegitimate payloads (the content carried in digital packets); through the use of sophisticated protocols, they can divert network traffic to arbitrary ports, Data containing everything from music to financial transactions or weapons designs can be diverted to lanes that are created for a few milliseconds and then disappear without a trace, posing a crippling challenge to any country’s ability to monitor Internet traffic. Estimates vary, but P2P may consume as much as 60 percent of the Internet’s bandwidth; no one knows how much of this traffic is legitimate, how much violates copyright laws, and how much is a threat to national security.

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The commercially available networking systems that carry nearly all international data traffic are of high quality: they are structurally reliable, available globally and are also highly automated. However, the networking standards that enable communication using this networking infrastructure were designed in stages over the last four decades to ensure compatibility, not security, and the network designers have been playing catch-up for years.

The price of perpetrating a cyber-attack is just a fraction of the cost of the economic and physical damage such an attack can produce. Because they are inexpensive to plan and execute, and because there is no immediate physical danger to the perpetrators, cyber-attacks are inherently attractive to adversaries large and small. Indeed, for the most isolated (and therefore resource-deprived) actors, remote, network borne disruptions of critical national infrastructure – terrestrial and airborne traffic, energy generation and distribution, water and wastewater-treatment facilities, all manner of electronic communication, and, of course, the highly automated Indian financial system – may be the primary means of aggression of a potential adversary.

The cost of a cyber weapon is very low, a few thousands of dollars compared to the millions of dollars spent developing a new bomb or a sophisticated automated missile system. The skills and resources are not controlled and are available. As for intent, there is no shortage of individuals or groups who wish to harm India and the likelihood of detecting this plan and foiling it is questionable.

Cyber-attacks occur on a frequent basis and in a near-instantaneous manner; as the world becomes more connected, more machines and more people will be affected by an attack. In the months and years to come, cyber-attack techniques will evolve even further, exposing various and possibly critical vulnerabilities that have not yet been identified by computer security experts. Moreover, such attacks could also be coordinated to coincide with physical assaults, in order to maximize the impact of both.


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