Wednesday, June 29th, 2022 19:59:32

Perils of Cyber Warfare

By Ashok Kumar
Updated: September 16, 2019 4:51 pm

Cyber conflict remains in the gray area between war and peace, an uneasy equilibrium that often seems on the brink of spinning out of control. As the peace of attacks rises, our vulnerability becomes more apparent each day: in the opening months of 2018, the US government warned utilities that Russian hackers had put “implants” of malware in the nation’s nuclear plants and  power grid and then, a few weeks later, added that they were infesting  the  routers that control the networks of small enterprises  and  even individual homes. In previous years there has been similar evidence about Iranian hackers inside financial institutions and Chinese hackers siphoning off millions of files derailing the most intimate details of the lives of Americans seeking security clearances. The problems made harder by the fact that America’s offensive cyber prowess has so outpaced its defence that officials hesitate to strike back.

Against this backdrop, the book points out that behind the Russian cyberattacks that may have thrown the US 2016 election; behind the Sony hack; behind mysterious power outages around the world and the disappearance of thousands of personnel records from poorly guarded government servers are the traces of a new and powerful weapon, one that has the potential to remake global conflict like nothing since the invention of the atomic bomb.  This book is the riveting story of how, in less than a decade, cyberwarfare displaced terrorism and nuclear attacks as the greatest threat to American national security.

The author emphasises that rarely in human history has a new weapon been adapted with such speed, customised to fit so many different tasks, and exploited by so many nations to reshape their influence on global events without turning to outright war. Among the fastest adapters has been Putin’s Russia, which deserves credits as a master of the art from, through it is not the only practitioner. Moscow has shown the world how hybrid war works. The strategy is hardly a state secret: Valery Gerasimov, a Russian general, described the strategy in public, and then helped implement it in Ukraine, the country that has become a test-bed for techniques Russia later used against the United States and its allies. The Gerasimov doctrine combines old and new: Stalinist propaganda, magnified by the power of Twitter and Facebook , and backed up by brute force.

The book underlines that cheap to acquire, difficult to defend against, and designed to shield their user’s identities so as to complicate retaliation, these weapons are capable of an unprecedented range of offensive tactics; they can take us just short of war, allowing for everything from disruption to theft to the cause of widespread damage of essential infrastructure systems. And the vulnerability of those systems has created a related but equally urgent conflict: American companies like Apple and Cisco must claim allegiance to no government in the name of selling secure products around the globe, yet the US intelligence agencies want the help of such companies in defending against future cyber attacks.

In a nutshell, the book takes readers inside war rooms and boardrooms, into the secret cyber dens of American and Chinese military, to give the deep-background story of the increasingly pitched battle between nations, their governments, their cyber warriors, and their corporations


By Ashok Kumar


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