1. Wars are fought over resources.
Already, wars all around the world are being fought over natural resources, even if the involved parties deny it. Past wars were intrinsically tied with the accumulation of natural resources. This will only continue in the future as natural resources become more and more limited due to usage and population growth within a company-controlled consumer world.
may be the new weapons of mass destruction.
Since hackers can control computers and have the ability to find out classified information about companies, it will only be a matter of time before hackers take things to a new level. They will be able to control nuclear weapons and military weaponry. Once this becomes the case, war can start simply through the stroke of a key on a keyboard. What would happen if the hackers hacked into power plants and shut down the grid? Hackers are battling every day to gain control of power plants and nuclear weaponry behind closed doors.
3. Cyber attacks have already begun… Who is responsible?
The United States and Israel are believed to have created Stuxnet, a computer worm that undetectably infiltrated and destroyed an Iranian nuclear facility. The US and Israel deny any involvement in this attack. If there is no proof, then how can Iran blame anyone? Cyberwar will lead to countries playing the “blame game.”
4. It only takes one hacker to affect millions.
This guy still living in his parents’ basement could shut down an electrical grid.
Have you ever been aware of the power of one individual? Back in 1988, 10% of all machines connected to the Internet crashed and were overloaded with several copies of a “mysterious program.” The American government speculated that a Soviet cyber criminal was the perpetrator, however, it turns out that the perpetrator was a 23 year-old Cornell student. Even today we are threatened by single cyber criminals around the country. Smart hackers around the world can embarrass enemies, draw attention to pet causes, or cause mischief. Back in August, a lone American hacker was waging his own attack on the Syrian government. According to the Washington Post, “The shy, earnest, clean-cut, young professional of about 30 says he doesn’t have any specific ties to the Syrian conflict but was upset about the actions of the Syrian government and wanted to embarrass the Assad regime.” It doesn’t take an army to stir up international trouble!
5. Your computer can and will be hacked at some point (it probably already has been).
In 2011, 90 percent of US businesses reported being hacked— and those are just the hacks being reported! Oftentimes, people are unaware of the fact that there is malware functioning on their computer, turning it into a “drone” in a part of a larger botnet. People everywhere are being hacked on a daily basis and if you haven’t yet, it’s only a matter of time. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.
6. Your money may be safer underneath your mattress.
Last year, over 56% of banks in the United States alone were targeted by a wide variety of hackers. So…who exactly can we trust with our money and other important personal information?
7. Hackers can use their cyber skills to hack hospital equipment, virtually putting your life in their hands.
In an episode of the Showtime hit series Homeland, a member of an Islamic terrorist organization hacks into the Vice President’s pacemaker, causing him to die instantly of a heart attack. (Watch the clip!) Read more about it here, here and here.
8. Printers: the new weapons of mass destruction.
Hackers have moved beyond simply affecting events in the ether and have found ways to physically alter the world. They can hack into everyday objects with any sort of internet connection: printers, copiers, even new cars and apartment buildings with wireless keys. They can set into motion programs that result in the physical destruction of these objects. Code could be introduced to a printer’s systems through its internet connection causing it to overheat and explode; a printer could remotely be turned into a bomb. Anything with an internet connection could be at risk.
9. Not only can your computer be hacked, but it can also be used as a weapon.
“Computer networks are essential for companies or government agencies to operate. ‘Essential’ is a word chosen with care, because it conveys the fact that we are dependent upon computer systems. Without them, nothing works. If they get erroneous data, systems may work, but they will do the wrong thing. Despite all the money spent on computer security systems it is still very possible to insert erroneous data into networks. It can mean that systems shut down, or damage themselves, or damage something else, or send things or people to the wrong places.” – Richard A. Clarke
What kind of “wrong things” can computers be hacked to do? Participate in DDoS attacks without your knowing, make pipelines burst and control power grids and electrical appliances, causing them to malfunction—and possibly catch on fire. (Check out The Switch for more info).
10. Our military would function just as well as amazon.com would without the internet.
That’s right…without the internet the military would be essentially useless. Communication would become impossible, leaving millions without direction. Would those in the military continue to do their jobs in this sort of chaos? It is probable that they would instead return home to protect their families or, at the very least, focus on saving themselves. Read more here and here. For more information on this subject, you can also check out Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What To Do About It by Richard A. Clarke.
11. U.S. Cyber War Strength is Outclassed by North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia (to Name a Few).
Former presidential advisor Richard A. Clarke presents this graphic comparing the cyber strength of various nations in his book Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do about It, based on an arbitrary (though well-informed) point system. Higher total scores signify greater potential cyber strength.
The U.S. may arguably possess the world’s greatest offensive cyber capabilities (in terms of dedicated resources), but it lags behind in defense ratings. And in the digital world, defense is everything.
From communication to military operations to energy production, the United States is dependent on cyberspace and information systems for innumerable routine, daily functions—to a far-greater degree than many of the nations with which it competes. Additionally, ownership of the vast majority of U.S. critical infrastructure is held privately among many different firms, rather than being centrally state-owned. This makes standardized, effective defense of such systems more difficult.
The result is what’s known as the Cyber War Gap—the U.S. has both more of cyberspace to defend and a greater dependence on the smooth-functioning of processes within that cyberspace, than nations like North Korea and China. These nations can more easily disconnect from global information networks and continue operating in isolation (with minimal impact on the general populace), due in part because relatively smaller percentages of their populations are connected to the internet in the first place. Put simply, in the cyber realm, the U.S. is essentially on the same footing as, and perhaps even disadvantaged against, the smallest nations, so long as these nations have at least one networked computer.
More information can be found in this article by Colonel Jayson M. Spade, which both discusses the relationship between the U.S. and China with regard to each nation’s cyber security. It also emphasizes the need to focus on cyber defense, rather than cyber offense, in the creation of future national policy.
12. Over 44 countries have already armed their militaries for the cyber fight, yet only the UK has publicly acknowledged their offensive capabilities.
The cyber battlefront is marked by a different set of players, yet the United States is not considered the top dog. In 2004, some of the first players included China, India, and North Korea. Since then, dozens of countries have realized the need for their militaries to enlist hackers and computer specialists. As of 2013, nations such as Latvia, Jordan, and Malaysia were known to have cyber incorporated into their militaries.
13. Cyber gyms are being developed for hackers to hone their abilities.
Cyber gyms are being developed for groups of hackers to combat “fake” hack attacks. Hackers gather in rooms like the one seen above. Cyber gym developers aim to strengthen cyber security as a means of national defense.
14. General Keith Alexander came to the hacker conference to try and recruit hackers.
As Director of the National Security Agency, Chief of the Central Security Service, and Commander of the United States Cyber Command, General Keith Alexander is responsible for the security and protection of our great nation. In an effort to ensure the stability and invulnerability of the free world and its cyberspace, General Keith Alexander attended the Hacker Convention in Las Vegas last year in search of young, intelligent hackers willing to provide their support and insight.
15. The new child soldiers will be hackers and they’re already being trained.
The North Korean government is actively recruiting the brightest children and enrolling them in the best IT universities to train them in cyber warfare and hacking.
16. This 10-year old girl found security flaws in mobile game applications.
Cyfi’s findings have gotten the attention of the National Security Agency Director. With the possibility of such easy manipulation of personal electronic devices, she could theoretically have the same power as the CEO of Apple, Inc.
become wars without borders.
“Cyberspace has no boundaries, which means that an attack can come from virtually anywhere. It takes only a computer and an Internet connection to obtain a passport to cyberspace. Individuals with sinister intentions can mask their electronic identity or steal one from an unsuspecting individual, either by collecting the information required to take on the purloined identity or by using a ‘bot’ to take over a computer that can be used to enable or perpetrate the attack.”
-Allison De Luna
18. People fight for ideas.
This is no longer the traditional type of war with armies battling on the frontline with weapons. There are not clear sides in cyberwarfare where we see the United States fighting against a specific country for a specific reason. Most of the time, it is difficult to determine where cyber attacks come from. Cyberwar is being fought based on ideologies and beliefs rather than fighting as a result of nuclear weapons, counter-attacks, or attempts to control a country. People (not necessarily countries) are fighting for and against ideas—terrorist ideologies and western ideals, for example. This is a war based on exposing secrets, destroying infrastructures, and weakening people’s defenses. Ideas cannot be destroyed easily.
An example of someone fighting for their ideologies in cyberspace is Edward Snowden, “the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations.” This man decided to expose the NSA and their efforts to violate Americans’ privacy. Snowden comments, “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.” People are fighting for ideologies and their beliefs and stopping at nothing to get their points across.
19. 90% of human history has been lived without war.
Warfare is not part of human nature. It’s an invention. Hunter-gatherers lived for thousands of years in egalitarian societies with no warfare, and less murder than hierarchical societies. With the creation of rank and social stratification, along with people beginning to have personal possessions, warfare was invented to take control over resources and to defend people’s land.
In egalitarian societies, everyone is different but equal. Everyone is valued for the skills they have. This lets people trade the things they are best at creating, whether this is a pot, a meal, or a song. Rather than continuing to foster a competitive, ranked society that emphasizes the differences between nations and between individuals, we should take inspiration from egalitarian societies and learn to value the unique skills that each individual can contribute to the world and come to see everyone as equals.
20. The cavalry isn’t coming.
The internet allows you to be connected to anyone, anywhere, at any time. You have the power to change the world. You have the right to know about every war that is being waged —whether it be on the ground, or through fiber optic lines. Cyber attacks are happening and the face of war is changing. You have the right to demand peace. You are the cavalry.
We are the cavalry.
-Professor Nordstrom’s Anthropology of War and Peace class Fall 2013
University of Notre Dame