The New Face of War: Attacks in Cyberspace
War continues to spread online. Known as cyberwarfare, the spread of malicious online viruses just may be the future of war.
"We operate in five domains: air, land, sea, outer space and cyberspace," says Dan Kuehl, who manages information operations at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. Kuehl admitted in an interview with Al Jazeera that a guy typing on a computer is one of the new faces of war.
Cyber attacks continue to grow in number and sophistication each year. In 2006, Russian Mafia group Russian Business Network (RBN) began using malware for identity theft. By 2007, RBN completely monopolized online identity theft. By September 2007, their Storm Worm was estimated to be running on roughly one million computers, sending millions of infected emails each day.
In 2008, cyber attacks moved from personal computers to government institutions. On August 27, 2008 NASA confirmed a worm had been found on laptops in the International Space Station; three months later Pentagon computers were hacked, allegedly by Russian hackers.
Financial institutions were next. The State Bank of India (India's largest bank) was attacked by hackers located in Pakistan on December 25, 2008. While no data was lost, the attack forced SBI to temporarily shut down their website and resolve the issue.
There are three main methods of cyberwarfare: sabotage, electronic espionage (stealing information from computers via viruses) and attacks on electrical power grids. The third is perhaps most alarming. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) warned in a public notice that the U.S. electrical grid is susceptible to cyberattacks, which could lead to massive power-outages, delayed military response and economic disruption.
This assumes hackers access equipment which controls the grid, something which Howard Schmidt, head of U.S. cybersecurity doesn’t believe has happened.
It's possible that hackers have gotten into administrative computer systems of utility companies says Schmidt. But those aren't linked to the equipment controlling the grid, at least not in developed countries.