Cyberwar is a warlike confrontation between states in virtual space, which is conducted by means of information technology. The aim of cyberwar is to damage countries, institutions, or society electronically and to disrupt important infrastructures.
What is Cyberwar?
The term cyberwar, there is no clear definition. Even in the sense of international law, it is difficult to officially declare cyberwar as an act of war. In general, a cyberwar is understood to be a confrontation with the aid of modern information technology with warlike characteristics.
The military activities are strategically directed at the virtual space, cyberspace. The goal of a cyberwar is to disrupt information technology facilities and networks in such a way that important functions such as communications, the financial system, or energy and water supplies are no longer possible or affected. This can cause enormous damage to a country or society. Cyberwar can also accompany conventional acts of war to increase their chances of success.
The first feature of cyberwar is usually spying on the economy, science, or the military. The next step is the infiltration of information technology facilities with the help of malware such as viruses, worms, or Trojans. The systems can thus be manipulated or disrupted. Targeted DoS (Denial of Service) attacks are also part of virtual warfare techniques.
Often, cyber warfare takes place on the Internet and is directed against important services or official websites. However, other communication networks and infrastructures can also be targeted by cyber attacks. The weapons of cyberwar are the various tools from the field of computer science and information technology.
Destabilizing society through the targeted dissemination of misinformation can also be a goal of cyberwar. Since in many cases the perpetrators of a cyberattack cannot be identified and there may be no official military or state institutions behind it, the term cyberterrorism is often used. Defensive measures of a cyberwar are intended to prevent attacks and maintain vital communications, command structures, and supply systems.
Methods of cyberwar
The methods of a cyberwar fall into several categories. Some institutions also include the physical destruction of computers or information technology facilities, for example, through electromagnetic pulses or physical sabotage, among the methods of cyberwar. Generally, however, cyberwar occurs through the manipulation of computers and networks. These include:
- Penetrating other people’s computer systems and spying on their information
- Deleting or altering content for destabilization or propaganda purposes
- Remote control of foreign computer systems
- Injecting compromised software or hardware that malfunctions
- Disrupting critical services and command structures through targeted denial-of-service attacks
- To execute these methods, attackers exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems and security devices.
Examples of cyberwar
Activities that can be classified as cyberwar have been observed as early as the late 20th century. In the 1999 Kosovo war, NATO deliberately disrupted and manipulated Serbian air defense systems, penetrated telephone networks, and interfered with the financial system.
In 2007, the government and administrative offices of Estonia were massively disrupted by a concerted denial-of-service attack. Hospitals and power systems were also affected by the attack. Despite a lack of official evidence, Russian perpetrators were suspected of the attacks.