Cyber warfare: Assessing 21st-Century Security Threats

The Cyber Battlegrounds of the Emerging Times

A new era is emerging, and with it is emerging a new world order which is explicitly cyber related in its quintessence. This is a world where not only people live dual lives – one real and one virtual, one physical and one spent behind screens – but where wars too will be no longer only fought with the sword and with the machine gun. Today wars are being fought on a much larger, much grander, much sneakier scale and this is what is otherwise known as cyber warfare. Gone are the days when guns alone would define and decide the future of two warring countries – these days, it is keyboards and computer screens that foretell the futures of nations to come. Cyber warfare, therefore, is something that is done thoroughly online and on the cyber space, something that can be perceived as an attack being tantamount to that of an armed attack on a nation’s territory. If an armed attack is carried out by a rival state on the nation’s geographical territory a cyber-attack is carried out on the nation’s cyber territory. The attack is almost always politically motivated and is carried out with sinister intent such as the intent to extract information of import from the rival state or to make DoS attacks, to disrupt a nation state’s functioning or to spread chaos across the border, etc. An attack which therefore comes under the umbrella of cyber warfare could include stealing of crucial information, sabotaging of government websites, disabling of the government’s online functions, leaking of classified data, disruption of networks, etc. Non state actors such as terrorist outlets, rival companies, hacktivists and criminal groups can also be sometimes involved in acts of cyber warfare if for nothing but to vex and terrorize an entire nation (a good example would be the hacking of all channels by Jim Moriarty in BBC’s Sherlock) however it is mostly nation states who come out as the principal perpetrators when it comes to cyber warfare.

Cyber Warfare as a Staple in Government Programs

Cyber warfare is of crucial import since it has of late become part of many government’s defense programs. Many governments have not only added weight to their cyber warring capabilities and their cyber defense techniques but have also invested largely in cyber warfare, keeping in mind the timeliness of the procedure. In the United States, for instance, cyber warfare techniques include postulates which outline cyber defense against foreign cyber-attacks, reduction of national vulnerability to cyber-attacks, and a management of the damage and due recovery following any cyber-attacks. Many other nations have followed the United States suit in this fashion and have started to invest heavily where it concerns their cyber warfare capability.

What Cyber Warfare Entails

Ranging from espionage to sabotage, to attacks on electrical power grids and Denial of Service attacks, cyber warfare is as scary a prospect as any – as Estonia did face back in 2007. Vulnerability to cyber-attacks entails a country’s being at risk of being put to dust with the mere movement of a few keys and a few clicks. Vigilance against cyber warfare is therefore of utmost importance as many a country have now started to undertake, especially after Edward Snowden revealed how the States was spying on subjects belonging to other countries. The NSA too has been the butt of many a scandal where it involves cyber espionage, having been accused of tapping conversations without permission – this it was accused of doing so the Philippines, Mexico, Kenya, Afghanistan, and Germany.

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