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Cyber War and Cyber Hype Brandon Valeriano Cardiff University [email protected] com
Importance • In 2011, the United States government declared a cyber attack similar to an act of war, punishable with conventional military means. Cyber attacks, cyber crime, and other forms of cyber activities directed by one state against another are now considered part of the normal relations range of combat and conflict. • The rising fear of cyber combat and threats has brought about a reorientation of military affairs. The question we have is what is the reality of this threat? • The is to return the debate on cyber conflict to a more nuanced approach of the actual dangers of cyber combat. While there is a real danger of cyber combat and cyber attacks, one must remain prudent in relation to the actual threat not the inflated threat presented by the imagination.
The Topic • Much talk about the concept of cyberwar and the changing dynamic of future conflict is founded on the study of spectacular flights of imagination. Is there really a cyber revolution in international affairs? • Discourse of cyber fear? • Where did it come from? • Why is it so important? Violation of scared core right?
Where has all the rationality gone? • Cyber is the number one threat according the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community (3/12/2013) • Cyber gets 3 pages while terror and WMD’s 2 pages each
Skyfall and James Bond • The villain turns out to be a skilled cyber warrior. He is capable of blowing up buildings with a simple virus and his entire criminal enterprise seems built on his cyber abilities. • There is no logic or reason to the capabilities of the Javier Barden villain Silva. Somehow the villain is able to escape from containment due to a cyber worm that defies all logic. We are all helpless to the threat of cyber warfare, even James Bond.
James Bond • Skyfall is a symptom of the wider failure of society to understand just what Cyberwar is and the threat it represents. • Our perception of cyber conflict is indicative of a perspective that the world is perpetually insecure and dangerous. • If Silva was able to blow up MI 6 with a simple computer program, MI 6 probably had too many security issues to sort out that had nothing to do with the nature of cyber attacks. • No system is secure, but we won’t have tube trains falling on our heads anytime soon
Gaza 11/2012 • Talk of the new cyber battlefield. That it will be just as important as the Gaza battlefield. • Iran, Anonymous, and various other allied hackers attacked Israel. • Reality: Officials in Israel said that there have been up to 44 million cyber attacks on government websites since the beginning of the military campaign in Gaza Wednesday. "All the attacks were thwarted except for one, which targeted a specific website that was down for six or seven minutes, " The group was able to take down several websites, including that of an Israel defence and security company and the Philippine Embassy in Israel
Flamebe • The Flame virus was promoted as more sophisticated than Stuxnet. • “In May some computers in the offices of former France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy have been victims of a targeted attack carried via a Flame variant. ” Dubbed Flamebe • “The attack was successful and, according to the French magazine, the attackers were able to get to the heart of French political power, harvesting the computers of close advisers of Nicolas Sarkozy and obtaining “secret notes” and “strategic plans” • How did they do it? “the attacker crafted a false profile on Facebook (a bogus friend of someone who worked for the president’s office) and successfully used that profile to contact (and compromise) personnel working at the President’s Office. After contacting the unaware victims, the attacker sent them a malicious link to a fake Elysée webpage, where they entered their real login and password details that the attacker used to hack into the network and spread the Flame variant. ”
Greatest Cyberattack Ever, Ever!!! • On 3/26/2013 – the BBC, New York Times, and other major news organizations breathlessly promoted the greatest cyber attack ever • “The DDo. S attack that almost broke the internet” • “It’s the biggest attack we’ve ever seen” CNN • Spamhaus versus Cyber. Bunker • “These (DDo. S) are essentially like nuclear bombs” • Internet Traffic Report saw no dips or valleys in data transfer. No Netflix outages as BBC and NYT suggested • “Why are the only people willing to make any claims about the validity or scope of the attack directly involved” and also able to profit (Cloud. Flare) - Gizmodo
Fear and the Nature of Threats • Cyberwar feeds on the need to perceive threats in an insecure world • Nature of conflict and perpetual fear • Who will protect us? Even Bond fails • Perceptions key • Who is perceiving what? Number one threat for cyber security individuals, last threat for elites and academics • Meet threat with opposing threat • Useless and antiquated path – power politics
Sony Hack • Computer security experts assert this attack will cost Sony more than $100 million. Sony needs to hire a forensics team, repair and rebuild its networks, protect them in the future, and hire several publicrelations firms to cover the action. This will add up and be costly, but just how costly will it be in the long run? Covered by insurance • Movie released anyway, demonstrates new model of distribution. • Since the cyberattack, more than a few people have told me that they will see “The Interview”. While the action was costly, the publicity this brought the movie would be tough to estimate. • Obama promised proportional response (targeted sanctions)
Sony Lessons • Network security critical, first step towards cyber security includes protecting your own networks • Often in cybersecurity, the means never achieve the ends. Most of the time the complete opposite happens. and in trying to shut the movie down, North Korea probably crafted a global movie event. • Many have suggested that cybersecurity is the fifth domain of war. The problem with that framework is that in reality, cyber-conflict concerns operate not at the level of war, but a bit below that, in the context of espionage and infiltrations. These are old domains that are becoming dominated by digital concerns now, but this in no way suggests a shift in the methods, processes and contexts of warfare, or even diplomacy for that matter.
Conclusion • We do not doubt that cyber attacks will increase in the future and will demonstrate a real national security threat to the state. The question we pose is how serious is threat? • The future is bright for cyber relations, but only if we allow natural connections to be made to speed the process of globalization and interconnectedness rather than inward thinking defensive reactions to technological developments. • Where does the dialogue of fear come from and why is it so persuasive?