WiseBites Episode 28: Cyber Warfare

These days, it feels like we are never more than a few inches away from the edge of total war. From Trump threatening China backed by North Korea to ISIS threatening everybody, we seem to never have been closer to being vaporised in a nuclear firestorm of the OWO’s total contempt. However, in the modern era, warfare is already occurring between the greatest countries on earth, and we are entirely unaware of it. This war is a cyber war, and it is seemingly one without causalities, but which like a conventional war, attempts to weaken the interests of the enemy whilst promoting your own. In cyber warfare, there are offenders and victims, attackers and defenders. It is the Freudian Id uploaded to cyber space, so hold onto your hats as we plug ourselves into the Matrix.

 

The Power of the Cyber Warfare

 

The first brand of cyber warfare is good old fashioned espionage. These are sometimes referred to as cyber attacks. The discovery of such an attack can cause very real political tensions, and the chance of actual warfare starts to increase. The whistle blower Edward Snowden revealed a massive cyber spying system being run by the US, also the Chancellor of Germany’s telephone was shown to be tapped, the NSA was recording the phone calls of people in the Bahamas without their permission along with several other countries as well as other attacks committed by China and Russia.

 

 

The other, much more serious type of cyber attack is active sabotage. This is when something is hacked and then damaged, brought offline or otherwise interfered with. This could include vital infrastructure managed by computer such as electricity, water, fuel, communications and more. This is has been proven to work, as the US made attack software called Stuxnet which delayed Iran’s nuclear development program, except that it sort of went out of control and started infecting power plants the world over. This highlighted an uncomfortable problem. These cyber attacks could run rampant around the world wrecking things. Even worse, non State actors could potentially create one of these themselves and use it for their own criminal ends.

 

 

These highly dramatic and very dangerous attacks are relatively rare. Much more common is the persistent and annoying DdoS or Denial of Service Attack. This is when a machne or network is rendered unusable due to a coordinated and sudden overload of user traffic. This causes it to crash, preventing it providing the service it is designed for. Mostly this is just a pain in the backside, however if you attacked, for example, a large exchange such as an undersea internet cable, you could potentially bring down an entire continents internet connectivity. Now, wouldn’t that be an interesting April fool’s prank?

 

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There are many reasons why cyber warfare is considered necessary. The most prominent reason is for the military. General Alexander told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that there was a “mismatch between our technical capabilities to conduct operations and the governing laws and polices. Cyber command is the newest global combatant and its sole mission is cyberspace, outside the traditional battlefields of land, sea, air and space.” As such cyber warfare is employed to attack enemy computer networks and to defend one’s own networks. Civil institutions also can provide motivations for cyber warfare, such as Internet Service Providers or companies like Facebook. They harbour immense amounts or personal data on their systems including credit card details. This makes them goldmines for hackers who wish to rob you or steal your identity, ahem Yahoo!. Additionally, political activists have taken to cyber space, donning the name hacktivist, such as Anonymous to bring their cause to the cyber battlefield, waging their own cyber war against the establishment. Other cyber combatants are private sector industries who would benefit from stealing user data, or other industry secrets in order to increase their profits. These are rarely reported, and as usual, because they are conducted by the super rich, they often get away Scot-free.

 

 

It can really feel like everyone is taking a slice of the cyber pie. Everything from your own personal computer to more advanced toasters can be hacked. It is a bizarre world in which our trusty PC can be like a gun pointing towards our heads, making us potential victims of the State, of capitalism and of crime. But what strikes the Gnostic heretic as incredible, is just how inept and vulnerable it makes the ordinary person. The business of the elite is now conducted in ways which we can barely detect never mind get in the way of. All of that data of ours which they store, could be stolen at any time and put to an infinite amount of nefarious uses, all of which you can bet is not to the best interest of the ordinary person.

 

 

In a more rational world, data would be chosen much more selectively and would be deleted after a short period of time. The reason why so much of our data is collected anyway is so that we can be targetted for advertisements, or have our personalities profiled by the rich to make us vote one way or another in an election. The very act of giving up our data to these tyrants is loading the gun which will be pointed at our own faces. In a world in which crass advertisement is viewed with disdain, the insatiable hunger for any and all data would decrease. It would no longer serve a purpose to the elite. As a result, there will be far less of us stored out in the cyber world to be taken by hackers. You really must be as mad as a hatter if you are okay with being used as collateral damage in a cyber war just so a capitalist can customise which annoying ads appear on your Facebook page! The scary thing is, most people truly are that mad.

 

 

The Gnostic Heretic writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©

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