Cyber Warfare, Essay Example

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Essay

One of the newest threats to the world and especially the United States is cyber terrorism. Cyber terrorism is seen as the premeditated and politically motivated attack against computer systems, programs, information, and data that can be violent against noncombatant targets by clandestine or sub-national groups. (Elusharaf 2004) Cyber terrorists are attacking computer systems, hacking into secure data infrastructures that result in causing mayhem, panic, and even death to innocent civilians. Cyber warfare is a significant issue among major countries that have forced militaries to incorporate a new branch of military action devoted to protecting and conducting action against cyber warfare. (Andress, Winterfield 2011) Cyber warfare has been used by major countries to attack corporations, government, agencies, in the form of radicalism that has been perceived as warlike. Iran has become one of the premier countries that have been a driving force behind cyber terrorism. The group, Iran’s Cyber Army that is, “comprised of highly skilled specialists in information technology and professional hackers who avoid revealing their identity.” (BBC Persian, 2012)

Iran’s Cyber Army is a part of the Iranian military that consists of their Navy, Army, Revolutionary Guard force, and Air Force. The Iranian Cyber Army (IRA) has been used as an attempted oppression tool for the pro-democratic Green Movement in Iran. “A political retribution against US organizations for critical reports, and intrusion of technologies supportive of freedom of expression are all acts in accordance to the current Iranian military vision.” (Lukich 2011) The Iranian Cyber Army has hacked in various business sector websites and government websites which has been used to as a way to generate awareness of the cyber army’s presence. The Iranian Cyber Army is highly skilled in their attacks as they are able to hack into numerous foreign based media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and government agencies in the West. According to research and interview reports from the Chairman of Google, he commented that The Iranian Cyber Army succeeded in taking over the informational traffic throughout the internet using intelligence hacking. (BBC Persian 2012) The Iranian Cyber Army succeeded in hacking Twitter in 2009, by replacing the homepage with the sign that it was hacked by the terrorist group. (Gertz 2011) The Iranian Cyber Army have succeeded in many attacks including one on September 2011 in which they hacked into 500 internet security certificates that impacted over 300,000 Iranian internet users. They have also hacked into the Dutch government web security firm the same year. They are so highly skilled that the Defense Tech, an American company that deals with Internet security named Iran one of the five countries with the most powerful cyber capabilities throughout the world. (BBC Persian 2012)

One of the most notable attacks made by the Iranian Cyber Army was in 2011. After a string of attacks on computer systems in Iran and in other countries, the Iranian Cyber Army hacked into the Voice of America website. By replacing their home page with a banner that bored the Iranian Flag and an AK-47 assault rifle, and the message “we have proven that we can.”  (Gertz 2011) The Iranian Cyber Army placed on the website the want for then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to “hear the voice of oppressed nations.” (Gertz 2011)  More brazenly the message the called for the United States to stop interfering with foreign (Islamic) countries. The Voice of America (VOA) websites is a global network of news and information that reflect the U.S foreign official policies. It broadcasts on television, the internet, and through the radio to nations all around the world.

The result of the attacked forced the parent company of VOA, Broadcasting Board of Governors to cancel all shortwave radio broadcasts of the VOA’s Chinese language service. The group attacked the computer server, which according to officials, “shows the power and capability of the group in the cyber arena.” (Gertz 2011) Visitors that went to the VOA and other 95 related websites were redirected to the page showing the Iranian flag and the AK-47 rifle, the attacked lasted for a full day. The attack was successful in showing the international community the sophisticated and strategic capabilities of the cyber organization in hacking into secure international websites. The results were not to damage the systems but rather create awareness of the fact that these terrorist organizations are capable of getting into highly secure systems without any problems. The Iranian Cyber Army let their attack be known, and the website responded in sending a message that while the organization was able to infiltrate the system it did not lose or corrupt any data. The hacking was seen as a result of the change in the broadcasting nature that would undermine the Chinese authority in Tibet. More importantly the organization has ties to pro-democracy movement that threatens the stability of the Chinese government. The organization is continued to make their presence known throughout the world. Hacking into several international websites with the intentions of warning countries of their abilities of being able to wreck damage to the systems and to the users.

Cyber Warfare is a serious problem that has come to fruition in the last decade. With the spread of globalization and more stock being placed in technology, countries have moved to train individuals in the complexities of cyberspace. The internet has also laid the foundation for terrorist countries to lay a new war ground where they can infiltrate and attack more citizens without leaving a trace. The move for cyber terrorism is to incite fear, panic, and unrest. While the Iranian Cyber Army is poised to make their presence known it is now up to security officials around the world to implement new protocols that will protect the websites and users from future attacks as the group is growing in sophistication and political power, as they become more notorious throughout the world.

Technology has inexplicably changed the way in which people do just about everything. The daily activities of communicating, checking the news, waking up, driving, talking, and other daily habits have been enhanced or replaced by technology. This has provided a double sided benefit and problem. While humans continue to grow dependent on technology, others can step into to exploit these dependencies. Millions of people have access to the internet and use it throughout the day on a daily basis. Billions of data are shared throughout the internet with people located all over the world. The phenomenon has not only brought out innovations, but also criminals. Cybercrimes have increased in the decade, and steadily rising as more and more criminals get sophisticated, and the anomaly of the internet helps to disguise their identity, and masked their inevitable attacks that could compromise entire systems. Cybercrimes have grown to theft, hacking, phishing, and other crimes to full out cyber warfare in the forms of cyber terrorism and the growth of cyber terrorist organizations. The threat of cyber warfare has become a startling reality as FBI, and other government agencies have named cyber warfare as a major threat.

The future of cyber warfare is predicted to be daunting as major countries have already engaged in the war, such as the United States and Israel conducting their attack on Iran. The filed named Stuxnet, was one of the first partnership led cyber-attacks by the United States. As more and more nation become reliant on technology, it has become criminals and more importantly terrorist mechanism for conducting war. Cyber warfare is a tool used by organizations and agencies in order to hack into a system and either corrupt, or infiltrate with the intent to cause panic. Cyber warfare has been used by the United States, China, Russia, Iran, and other nations. Cyber warfare can be seen as a necessary tool for many organizations that have taken the battle from the ground to the information highway, which allows for organizations to target not only people by infrastructures, governments, computer systems, and other technology that powers nuclear plants, financial sectors, hospitals, and other relevant sectors.

Cyber warfare is an ethical dilemma in which some countries use cyber warfare in order to combat nations that intend to distribute harm on masses. The United States uses cyber warfare in order to protect critical infrastructures such as power grids, communication systems, healthcare systems, nuclear power plants, and other vital systems in which millions of citizens rely on. According to Andress, cyber warfare is described as the utilization of the internet in order to wage war within cyberspace, with real world effects in the physical world. (Andress, Winterfield 2011) The use of cyber warfare has forced nations such as the United States to develop and incorporate a branch of military that focuses on cyber intelligence in order to protect against cyber warfare. The future of wars would be fought virtually as terrorist organizations from terrorist countries have moved to cyberspace in order to not only spread heat and their doctrine but also fear motivated by radical political beliefs.

In determining if cyber warfare is ethical, the definition and laws of war must be examined, by showcasing that there is only one just for war, which is in defense of aggression. (Lin, Allhoff, Rowe, 2012) The act of aggression is complex when it comes to cyber-attacks as some do not cause any physical or kinetic harm in the conventional sense that war be justifiable defense. Cyber-espionage which is just infiltrating systems and cyber-attacks that can be utilized in inflicting deliberate damage can range from subtle to substantial impact. Cyber warfare is not discriminatory in which that those that go to the websites are affected even if considered noncombatants. In the example of the Stuxnet worm sent by Israel and the United States, it aimed at the Iranian nuclear processing facilities but spread far beyond its intended targets that required upgrades to anti-virus software worldwide. (Lin, Allhoff, Rowe 2012) In deciding if cyber warfare is ethical there are several factors that must be considered in which the threat of these organizations could result in impacting not only innocent lives, but intend to do harm that is justifiable for war.

According to Andress, the United States is steadily prepping for imminent cyber-attacks from hostile nations such as Iran, China, Russia, and other nations that are have already chosen to attack American based websites. As part of the United States national strategies, they have funded several initiatives to address the threat to national security. The recent administration has moved to commission several reviews and studies in which to provide recommendations that implement new cyber security policies and sector dedicated to monitoring cyber activity. (Andress, Winterfield 2011) The United States has developed a response plan that will alert an early warning systems to all federal agencies and departments, and hiring those with the right skill sets in order to address the cyber warfare concern. The United States is not alone in their preparedness, other nations including The United Kingdom, Australia, and others have taken legislative action to secure their infrastructures.

The future of cyber warfare is looking to be uncertain for several nations that are doing their best to become prepared, however, work against the uncertainty and tight budgets that prevent them from hiring those with the right skill sets to combat these highly growing organizations that are activity learning to take down computer systems. While no nation has declared cyber warfare, there have been several government and other agencies that have been attacked that have been called criminal acts. However, the trend of these cyber-attacks are going towards a future in which cyber warfare will be declared. As more and more terrorist organizations gain notoriety in their attacks, many nations and citizens will grow in fear of the potential impact that can bring down entire nations by the attacks through cyberspace.

Bibliography

Andress, Jason, and Steve Winterfeld. Cyber Warfare: Techniques, Tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners. Syngress Publishing, 2011.

BBC Persian. “Structure of Iran’s Cyber Warfare.” BBC Persian. Last Modified 2012. http://nligf.nl/upload/pdf/Structure_of_Irans_Cyber_Operations.pdf

Elmusharaf, M. “Cyber Terrorism: The New Kind of Terrorism.” Computer Crime Research Center. Last Modified 2004 from http://www.crime-research.org/articles/Cyber_Terrorism_new_kind_Terrorist.

Gertz, Bill. “Iranians hack into VOA website.” The Washington Times. Last Modified February 22, 2011. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/21/iranian-hackers-break-voa-deface-web-sites/

Lin, Patrick, Allhoff, Fritz, Rowe, Neil.C. “Computing Ethics War 2.0: Cyber weapons and Ethics.” Viewpoints. Last Modified 2012. http://www3.nd.edu/~cpence/eewt/Lin2012.pdf

Lukich, Alex. “The Iranian Cyber Army.” Center for Strategic & International Studies. Last Modified July 12, 2011. http://csis.org/blog/iranian-cyber-army

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