Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cyberwar: We Better Be Prepared

Cyber Warfare

The morality of a cyberwar can be discussed until all participating parties are blue in the face. However, the reality of the issue is that it's not a matter of morality, but a matter of time; whether it's an all-out cyberwar between two or more countries, or whether it's private groups waging cyber guerrilla warfare against a perceived evil, there will be cyber battles in our future.

I speak of the event of cyberwarfare with such certainly simply because, from a logistics standpoint, it is the next logical step for warfare. The question of it's morality, while interesting from an educational standpoint, is irrelevant from a realistic standpoint. Cyberwarfare is more accessible, cheaper, and more efficient than classic warfare. Military equipment is expensive and extremely difficult to obtain in relation to computers. Also, computers level the playing field in many ways. Not many factions that oppose the United States are going to be able to afford to build stealth bombers costing over a billion dollars. However, with a computer, an internet connection, and the proper knowledge, one person could potentially do much more towards damaging the United States than the same person with an AK-47 could.

Denial of service attacks (as talked about in "The Rights and Wrongs of Hacktivism" are relatively simple and can be executed by almost anybody, particularly once the code is written. The simplicity of these attacks, however, hides how effective they can be against an unprepared opponent. Giant corporations such as Amazon and Master Card were brought to their knees (temporarily) by 10,000 hacktivists. What could 100,000 hacktivists, or worse yet 100,000 well trained cyber warriors accomplish?

The PC is a powerful weapon. It is only a matter of time before it "falls into the wrong hands". When this time comes, the United States needs to be prepared, both defensively and offensively.


  1. I agree with your sentiments about the logical advancement of warfare. It can be argued that today our world is literally run by computers. All of our communications, utilities, bank transactions, military defenses (the list goes on and on) are controlled or monitored or administered by computers in some way, so it only makes sense that warfare would find its way into cyberspace. Hersh notes that Hacktivist's use techniques like Denial of Service attacks as a way of "mobilizing a political effort", which usually revolves around less government involvement in cyberspace-in this case protesting the right to free speech on the internet. Do you think that if the United States were to use preemptive security measures, like monitoring American civilian computers for signs of "terrorist" activity, as a way of "preparing defensively" for a cyber war, hacktivists would turn on the government instead? Would you consider this a good thing because they are acting as a "regulator" of government activity, or would you see it as a potential threat to the safety of our nation?

  2. Well I think whenever the phrase "monitoring American civilian computers" is mentioned, you have to be careful. To what extent would these computers be monitored? At what point does this "monitoring" turn into a violation of the 4th amendment, as in an unreasonable search/seizure (of computer data)? I could definitely see people being outraged by this and hacktivists trying to make a stand, but it would be a lot more difficult; their computers would be being monitored! Of course, they would try to find ways around this... While I don't think the hacktivists would be "in the right", I do think it would be wrong for the U.S. to be snooping around inside our computers.