Cyber War, a Strong Future Trend

By Dialogo
February 12, 2013


Currently we are under the impression that if there is a new world war, it will probably be in cyberspace, where there are neither laws nor restrictions, which can be a great advantage. The Internet also shows its dark side, maximized for use in military actions of espionage and sabotage, either by nations or any other non-governmental entity.

The cybertroops may be used for both defense and for an ample offensive, hitting all sectors where there are connections and vulnerabilities. The problem is so present, that the United Nations studied a project to protect the state structures on the Internet and the organization of Cyber-Centers in NATO, anticipating the possibility that this new type of conflict will occur, and it is more possible today than a nuclear war.

The threats generated by computer networks can be classified into five types, or what we call the 5Cs. A cyber threat is an effort to obtain non-authorized access to an online system, with the objective of extracting or manipulating data, violating the confidentiality, authenticity, integrity, or availability of the data within the system. Generally, it is performed by spyware, which may be introduced via legit software or via a Trojan virus. The same concept may be used for cyber espionage.

Cyber war is defined as a group of actions adopted by countries against computer systems of other countries, with the objective of causing damage or interruption of services (see the Estonia case, in 2003, the first registered occurrence). Finally, Cyber terrorism is the use of the Internet to organize and execute attacks against critical computer networks, systems, and infra-structures, aiming to destroy or incapacitate them, as ideological motivations, causing chaos in the economy and inflicting fear in the population. We left cyber crime out, because of its criminal nature.

In a way, their weapons are more precise and lethal than conventional weapons: until the super viruses are detected, they have already caused much irreparable damage to the opponent, similar to the effects of bacterial virus. A common characteristic of cyber war, as well as of other virtual threats, is that it becomes almost impossible to detect who initiated or sponsored such actions, because the trails left behind, most of the time, are part of the disinformation practice. However, the biggest threat to all countries is that they can also be triggered by non-governmental parties, driven or not by different motives, breaking a historical paradigm which governments previously initiated via their Armed Forces.

*André Luís Woloszyn, Strategic Affairs Analyst



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