Welcome to the new face of warfare. Welcome to the world of Stuxnet and attacks on German steel mills. Say hello to the army of Anonymous and never being able to know, precisely, who your real enemy is. Get used to financial attacks that can do as much damage as physical attacks and threats to services that we currently take for granted and would struggle to survive without.
In mid-December, a second confirmed digital attack occurred which caused the physical destruction of equipment. The first, of course, was Stuxnet, which caused a great deal of problems with the Iranian nuclear program. The United States and Israel are generally credited with developing and unleashing Stuxnet, but have never admitted to it, nor is there physical evidence that unequivocally ties the malicious program to the U.S. and Israel.
The newer attack targeted a steel mill in Germany. The control system of the mill was disrupted to the extent that a blast furnace could not be shut down. This led to massive damage to the mill. The Germans have no idea who was behind the attack or what the attacker was attempting to do.
It did highlight the vulnerabilities in control and power grids that can be exploited by governments or individual hackers who know what to look for.
After the recent attack on Charlie Hebdo, the hacktivist group Anonymous posted the below video declaring war on Al-Qaida and on ISIS.
The group vowed to not let the terrorist group destroy their freedom of expression. “We will track you down — every last one — and will kill you. You allowed yourselves to kill innocent people, we will therefore avenge their deaths.”
The purported American response to the supposed North Korean attack on Sony highlights the problems that countries around the globe will have even determining if they have been attacked by a government waging cyber war. Without knowing for certain if you have been attacked, who it was, or whether you should respond or not, you concede the initiative to your enemy. If you wait to acquire proof of who is behind the attack (if you even can acquire it), you still give your enemy time to prepare his response, cover his tracks even better, or prepare another attack on you.
As morally ambiguous as we have found the wars in the Middle East to be, cyber warfare will open up new avenues of dissent and societal fracturing. Fighting a war over an attack that may or may not have been intentionally launched will be a political nightmare for a non-totalitarian government. Even coming up with ways to attack enemies under those conditions carries a certain moral ambiguity.
Totalitarian regimes have another advantage. If the United States was conducting cyber warfare, it would not be a secret. The revelations from the Edward Snowden data theft and release, WikiLeaks or the Chelsea (Bradley) Manning theft of classified material would have revealed it.
The ability to conduct cyber warfare is here. So far, all that has been lacking is the will.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.