Since the beginning of warfare, military leaders have worked to develop long-range weapons. The advantage of being able to attack the enemy from a distance is two-fold: 1) The risk of an immediate counterattack by an opponent is diminished and 2) it is difficult for the target to anticipate or respond to the attack. Today, cyber warfare is becoming the preferred long-range weapon of governments and even corporations.
Washington Authorizes the Use of Cyber Attacks
The United States government has announced it has a new National Cyber Strategy. United States national security adviser John Bolton stated in a press briefing that this includes “offensive cyber operations” against the country’s adversaries. Though the publicly released version of the strategy does not go into much detail, it states that “activity that is contrary to responsible behavior in cyberspace” will be “deterred through the imposition of costs through cyber and non-cyber means, and the United States is positioned to use cyber capabilities to achieve national security objectives.”
The National Cyber Strategy is full of pro-American propaganda as well, even going as far as claiming it was American alone that “created the Internet and shared it with the world.” Below are a few excerpts.
“The rise of the Internet and the growing centrality of cyberspace to all facets of the modern world corresponded with the rise of the United States as the world’s lone superpower. For the past quarter century, the ingenuity of the American people drove the evolution of cyberspace, and in turn, cyberspace has become fundamental to American wealth creation and innovation.
“Cyberspace is an inseparable component of America’s financial, social, government, and political life. Meanwhile, Americans sometimes took for granted that the supremacy of the United States in the cyber domain would remain unchallenged and that America’s vision for an open, interoperable, reliable, and secure Internet would inevitably become a reality…”
Continuing, it goes on to say that the rest of the world does not appreciate all the hard work Americans put into the creation of the Internet and wish to use it as a tool of oppression.
“Our competitors and adversaries, however, have taken an opposite approach. They benefit from the open Internet, while constricting and controlling their own people’s access to it, and actively undermine the principles of an open Internet in international forums.
“They hide behind notions of sovereignty while recklessly violating the laws of other states by engaging in pernicious economic espionage and malicious cyber activities, causing significant economic disruption and harm to individuals, commercial and non-commercial interests, and governments across the world. They view cyberspace as an arena where the United States’ overwhelming military, economic, and political power could be neutralized and where the United States and its allies and partners are vulnerable.”
The publication also names a few of those “adversaries” as being Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. Of course, the memo forgot to mention Israel as one of those “adversaries” that have been accused of cyber attacks. Nor does it list itself as an adversary of the countries it has used cyber attacks against. But, really, what else could we expect?
US Senate Targeted By State-Backed Hackers
Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said in a recent letter to Senate leaders that his office has discovered that at least one major technology company warned the United States government about an unspecified number of personal email accounts belonging to Senators and their aids continue to be targeted by “foreign government hackers.”
The letter reads:
“I write to express my serious concern that the U.S. Senate Sergeant at Arms (SAA) apparently lacks the authority to protect U.S. Senators and Senate staff from sophisticated cyber attacks directed at their personal devices and accounts. I am introducing legislation to address this problem and invite you to support it.”
On September 20, 2018, a spokesperson from Google named Aaron Stein confirmed to the media that Google had indeed warned specific Senate members and staff that their Gmail accounts had been targeted.
Both Wyden and Stein refused to provide any further information concerning the attacks, such as who may have been behind the attacks, if a specific political party had been targeted, or the exact date of the attacks. One aid, on a promise of anonymity, told NBC News that that attacks had taken place “within the last few weeks or months.”
Governments Adding Cyber Warfare to Their List of Training Programs
It seems that cyber warfare is such a big concern that governments and other institutions are now adding it as a training subject, going as far as hiring companies like Elbit Systems to create Cyber Training ranges.
Programs teaching computer defense and other cyber warfare tactics start as early as middle school, with Junor Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) having a “Cyber Warfare Team.”
In 2018, the JROTC’s Cyber Warfare Team has chosen six cadets to attend a special computer defense camp sponsored by Lowndes High’s Air Force Junior ROTC and trained by computer science instructors from Valdosta State University. The six cadets are hoping to win the Cyber-Warfare competition taking place in October of 2018.