Cyber Warfare - A Deadly War With No Blood

Cyber Warfare – A Deadly War Without Blood

Just imagine you wake up to see your bank balance to be zero. It would give you a mini heart attack. On your way rushing to the bank, you are only welcomed with all red signals on your way. And one moment you find stock prices go crazy. Such scenarios are no longer hypothetical.

Confused about what you are reading. Well, let me tell you. All this is about CyberWarfare. So let us know what is this CyberWar that causes so much havoc and chaos without shedding blood.

What is CyberWarfare?

Cyberwarfare refers to the use of digital attacks like computer viruses by one country to disrupt the vital digital infrastructure of another country, to create huge damage.

Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Kaspersky Lab, concludes that “cyberterrorism,” is a more accurate term than “cyberwar,”. He states that “with today’s attacks, you are clueless about who did it or when they will strike again. It’s not cyber-war, but cyberterrorism.”

The term war refers to a large scale action over a protracted period and may include objectives seeking to use violence or the aim to kill.

Why CyberWarfare and what is Cyberspace?

A shadowy world that is still filled with spies, hackers, and top-secret digital weapons projects, cyberwarfare is an increasingly common and dangerous feature of international conflicts.

We can launch a cyberattack from any distance, with little obvious evidence of any build-up, unlike a traditional military operation. Such an attack would be extremely hard to trace back with any certainty to its perpetrators, making retaliation harder.

CyberSpace: A global domain within the information environment whose distinctive and unique character is framed by the use of electronics and the electromagnetic spectrum to create, store, change, exchange and exploit information via interdependent and interconnected networks using information-communication technologies.

Whether we should consider an attack as an act of cyber warfare depends on several factors. These include the identity of the attacker, what they are doing, how they do it — and how much damage they inflict.

Like other forms of warfare, we define cyber warfare in its purest sense as a conflict between states, not individuals. To qualify the attacks should be of significant scale and severity.

The nature and scale of the targets attacked is another indicator: defacing an individual company’s website is unlikely to be considered an act of cyberwarfare, but disabling the missile defense system at an airbase would come at least close.

The weapons used are also important, a cyberwar refers to digital attacks on computer systems only. Firing a missile at some data center would not come under cyber warfare.

Types of attacks:

Cyberwarfare can present a multitude of threats towards a nation. At the most basic level, cyber attacks can support traditional warfare. For example, tampering with the operation of air defenses via cyber means to facilitate an air attack.

Types include:

Sabotage

What is Sabotage? Computer sabotage involves deliberate attacks intended to disable computers or networks

Computers and satellites that coordinate other activities are vulnerable components of a system and could lead to the disruption of equipment. Compromise of military systems, such as C4ISTAR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Information/Intelligence, Surveillance, Targeting Acquisition and Reconnaissance.) components responsible for orders and communications, could lead to their interception or malicious replacement. Power, water, fuel, communications, and transportation infrastructure all may be vulnerable to disruption.

Denial-of-service attack

What is Denial-of-service? A DoS attack is an attack in which the hacker tries to make a machine or a network unavailable to its users by crashing it. It is usually done by generating huge traffic or sending huge information to the target.

DoS attacks, which continue to increase around the world, are expected to be leveraged for waging cyber warfare. Attackers are using distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack methods to hit government entities with massive sustained bandwidth attacks, and at the same time infecting them with spyware and malware to steal or destroy data. These attacks may inject misinformation into the networks of their targets to create chaos, outages or scandals.

Advanced persistent threat (APT):

What is APT? An advanced persistent threat is a computer network threat actor which is typically a nation or state-sponsored group which gains unauthorized access to a computer network and remains undetected for an extended period.

APT attacks on infrastructure can devastate a country. For example, attacks on a nation’s utility systems can wreak havoc by causing widespread power outages, but an attacker with access to hydropower grids could also cause flooding by opening dams and on the same lines, there can be many such damages done to a country.

Cyberattacks on a government’s computer systems can support conventional warfare efforts. Such attacks can prevent government officials from communicating with one another; enable attackers to steal secret communications; or release employee and citizen personal data, such as Social Security numbers and tax information, to the public.

Previous Cyber Wars that have taken place.

The world’s conception of cyberwar changed forever in 2010. It all started when a security firm in Belarus called VirusBlokAda found an unidentified piece of malware that crashed the computers running its antivirus software.

By September of that year, the security research community had come to the shocking conclusion that the specimen of malware, dubbed Stuxnet, was, in fact, the most sophisticated piece of code ever engineered for a cyberattack and that it was specifically designed to destroy the centrifuges used in Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities.

March 2014, Russian DDoS attack against Ukraine

This is the second time Russia allegedly coordinated military and cyber-attack. A DDoS attack 32 times larger than the largest known attack disrupted the internet in Ukraine while Russian-armed pro-Russian rebels were seizing control of the Crimea.

May 2014, Russia vs. Ukrainian election commission

Three days before Ukraine’s presidential election, a Russia-based hacking group took down both Ukraine’s election commission and a back-up system. The attack was an attempt to create chaos and aid the pro-Russian candidate.

May 2017, WannaCry

This attack is estimated to have affected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries. WannaCry was a ransomware crypto worm that targeted computers running Microsoft Windows.

June 2017, NotPetya

This is the first major instance of weaponized ransomware. The NotPetya malware was disguised as ransomware, but its goal was to destroy files. While the attack originated in Ukraine, it quickly spread worldwide. It is still unsure as to exactly how much damage was dealt with during this attack, but it is estimated that the total damage was over $10 billion USD.

Cyber defense

Cyber defense is a computer network defense mechanism that includes a response to actions and critical infrastructure protection and information assurance for organizations, government entities, and other networks. Cyber defense focuses on preventing, detecting and providing timely responses to attacks or threats so that no infrastructure or information is tampered with. With the growth in volume and complexity of cyber attacks, cyber defense is essential for most entities to protect sensitive information and to safeguard assets.

It is always good for us to be in our own safety standards following basic rules and being prepared for any such attacks.

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