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Cyberwarfare Comes Of Age

By Adam Elkus

The digitized specter of cyberwar is haunting the boardrooms, barracks, and law offices of America. China’s audacious September 2007 infiltration of secure Pentagon networks and government servers in several other nations has powerfully demonstrated that cyberwar’s moment has arrived. Cybersecurity analysts have estimated that 120 different nations are working to evolve cyberwar capabilities. Most of today’s current cyberwar operations involve hackers probing civilian and military networks for vulnerabilities and restricted information, operations that focus less on disruption than recon and surveillance.

Cyberwar is here

However, the July 2007 cyberblitz of Estonia–in which massive denial of service attacks took down government and citizen networks–proves that hacking can and will be used as a kinetic weapon. Although kinetic hacking attacks are a relatively new tool, their purpose is by no means complex or exotic. Hacking will be utilized as one element of an established political or military strategy, rather than an end in itself. The goal is not the narrow disruption of a few computer systems but psychological in nature-to disrupt an enemy’s moral cohesion and cast him into confusion and chaos. This has been the goal of military forces since the days of Sun Tzu. We should not be surprised to see cyberwar fit inside such a paradigm.

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