State sponsored cyber warfare is something that happens all the time, and there are quite a lot of people who are caught in the crossfire. State sponsored hacking and state sponsored cyber attacks affect targeted countries and their people in many ways including loss of privacy, data theft, weakened national security, and infrastructure shutdown.
What is Cyber Warfare?
Cyber warfare is the use of technology, including computer networks and the internet, to conduct military operations and other hostile activities in cyberspace. It involves the use of digital weapons to disrupt or destroy computer systems, steal sensitive information, or cause other types of damage to critical infrastructure or communication networks. Cyber warfare can be carried out by both state and non-state actors, and it poses a significant threat to national security, economic stability, and individual privacy. Effective cybersecurity measures, international cooperation, and diplomatic efforts are essential in preventing and mitigating the impact of cyber warfare.
State-sponsored cyber warfare is different from domestic cyber terrorism in that it is originated by a foreign government that has either directly planned and executed the cyber attack or paid someone or some group to execute the attack. The attackers who often hide behind a government and feel protected, may look for moral victories, want to send a message to their adversaries such as a warning, or clearly intend to hurt their enemies. Let’s not forget the false flag operations by countries that want to create conflict between other countries.
Why Do Countries Do This?
Cyberwarfare is often perpetrated by countries which do not have other means of attacking their enemies and is relatively inexpensive when compared to conventional warfare for a desired outcome which is commonly to harm the target country. There are many countries that cannot maintain an expensive army to fight another country halfway across the world. So, they fight with computers from within the safety of their borders. One of the major benefits of a cyber attack is that it makes the attacking country look strong within their national borders and abroad if the cyber attack is publicized even if they don’t publicly admit it. Also, it’s much easier to hide one’s tracks when engaged in cyber warfare than when lunching a missile.
Examples Of State Sponsored Cyber Warfare
Cyber attacks happen all the time whether they are publicized or not and countries often mentioned are North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran. Russia is said to have made a concerted effort to impact the American presidential election, and North Korea and China have been singled out for attacking western businesses in the past. Let’s not also forget the Stuxnet which was a malicious computer worm believed to be a jointly built American/Israeli cyberweapon which was used against the Iranian nuclear systems and uncovered in 2010 although it was in development since at least 2005.
Details behind cyber attacks are often not released because the governments don’t know if the hackers were domestic rogue elements or government sponsored. Releasing cyber attacks may also weaken the targeted countries’ standing in the world stage and offer a moral victory for the attacking country.
How Do Countries Protect Themselves
Countries around the world employ highly technical professionals who are actively fighting against global hackers to identify and contain them. Governments may have entire units of their intelligence force or military personnel working against hackers. It is important to note that the global cyber protection force is quite large.
Steps for Preventing State Sponsored Cyber Warfare
Preventing cyber warfare is a complex and multifaceted challenge that requires a combination of technological, organizational, and diplomatic measures. Here are some steps that countries can take to prevent cyber warfare:
- Strengthen cybersecurity defenses: Countries should invest in robust cybersecurity defenses, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption technologies. This will support cyber attack prevention and limit the damage caused by any successful attacks.
- Develop and enforce strong cyber laws: Countries should have strong cyber laws and regulations that make it illegal to engage in cyber warfare or other malicious activities online. These laws should be enforced rigorously and uniformly across all sectors.
- Increase international cooperation: Cyber attacks are often cross-border in nature, making it essential for countries to work together to prevent them. Countries should share data about threats and attacks, and coordinate their efforts to respond together.
- Educate the public and raise awareness: Citizens should be educated about cyber threats and encouraged to take measures to protect themselves online. This includes using strong passwords, using current software, and being cautious about clicking on links or downloading file attachments from suspicious sources.
- Foster a culture of responsibility: Countries should promote a culture of responsibility and accountability for cyber behavior. This can be accomplished through awareness and education programs that emphasize the importance of responsible online behavior.
- Promote international norms and standards: Countries should work together to propose global standards for behavior in cyberspace. This will help propose guidelines for appropriate behavior and reduce the risk of misunderstandings and escalation.
Cyber attacks are common and can negatively affect countries, businesses, and people. Governments rightfully acknowledge cyber warfare as a growing and real threat that can be initiated even by the smallest country in the world that has no means for a conventional war. One of the biggest fears of countries facing cyber attacks other than data theft is loss of infrastructure and power grids. The cyber attacks can be sponsored by and originate from any country and often the evidence does not clearly point to the originating country although that may not stop false accusations against a certain country.
In summary, everyone can be a cyber attacker and anyone can be a target of a cyber-attack. Regardless of who initiates the attack, the results may be devastating depending on the target and purpose of the attack. Countries must train future generations in computer security and welcome the global human capital that brings the necessary skills to cyber warfare.
Preventing cyber warfare requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that involves both technical and soft measures. By working together and taking proactive steps to strengthen cybersecurity and promote responsible behavior online, countries can prevent cyber warfare and protect their citizens and critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.