Cyberwarfare Makes Cold Wars Hotter.
Cyberspace, a domain created not by nature but by human beings, has emerged to provide tremendous benefits, but also to present new risks. Recently, cyber security has become a national policy issue. Driven predominantly by national security concerns, democracies have formulated national cyber strategies. Cyberspace refers to inter-connected information technology infrastructures comprising computers, computer-embedded systems, telecommunication networks, the world wide web and the internet, including the information transmitted and processed within these systems. The public internet is only one part of cyberspace. Other parts include mission-specific systems that vary widely in size and complexity and control the function of various obscure processes; these control functions gradually become computerised. The term “cyber,” derived from the Greek, refers to the control element. Technologically identical methods are used to gain unauthorised access to computer resources for most cyber operations, regardless of the intended purpose: crime, terrorism, industrial espionage, military espionage, or warfare. Indeed, novel cyber attacks on critical national infrastructure are likely to severely disrupt social activities if successful. It has become theoretically possible to exploit the properties of today’s cyberspace to attack strategic targets remotely. Furthermore, the attacker risks significantly less in cyberspace due to the widespread use of vulnerable commercial off-the-shelf technologies, the difficulty of distinguishing a glitch from malicious action, and the challenges of identifying the attackers. Centrally, war is a violent act, where the threat of force and violence is instrumental to achieving a political goal. Neither denial-of-service, web hacking, nor espionage are even potentially violent, even when Stuxnet is considered – no cyber incident has yet been violent nor caused loss of human life. Since none of the cyber events have yet met the requirements to constitute a war, the “cyberwar” metaphor should be relinquished, at least for the time being. Cyber security is not simply a clear-cut technical issue. It is a strategic, political, and social phenomenon with all the accompanying messy nuances. Therefore, cyber reality must be examined with a scientific rigour by all disciplines, enabling an informed public debate. It is both morally essential and rationally effective for the responses to be formulated through a democratic process. Credit: Lior Tabansky for Cyber Security Review 2017.
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