The cyber space has been recognized as the new domain of warfare; cyber warfare is actions of either states or non-state organizations to penetrate another nation’s computers or other networks for the purpose of causing damage or disruptions. Cyber warfare target not only national security, but also frauds like identity theft and stealing of classified information from competitors, rivals, and groups.
Primarily, cyber attack can be waged by foreign agencies, terrorist, criminals, hackers or insiders (National Communication System, 2002, p.20). Cyber attacks in the US are increasing in number and level of sophistication in the present years.
Moreover, most cyber attacks are motivated by politics while others are motivated by economic gains, ego, personal enmity, or war and military gain. The range of techniques used in cyber warfare includes use of malware, virus, worms, and destruction of computers.
Cyber warfare could have serious repercussions on security of the US; for instance, destroying the economy through commercial espionage or theft of intellectual property. Given the loss associated with cyber attack, the government should spend its resources to monitor, and prevent a cyberspace attack just as they protect the sea, air, and land.
However, it is difficult to trace the source of attacks, and if the aggressors are identified, it is a complicated task to deal with them if they are not state or a state sponsored organization.
Since the 2008 hacking of the US department of defense network, the government had to review its strategies of cyberspace defense to prevent and bar any future attacks. Nevertheless, cooperation with other nations could help prevent a cyber attack since they can share intelligence, and other important information.
How cyber warfare is a national, homeland and international security issue
Cyber warfare is a national security threat since it risks the security of a nation, its economic status, and causes conflict between nations.
There are several types of cyber threats which have different motivations and targeted to a group of people; cyber terror, hackivism, black hat hacking, cyber crime, cyber espionage and information war (CQ Researcher, 2010, p.144). generally, the targets of cyber warfare are innocent victims, the government, companies, decision makers, infrastructure, information technology system, and private or public date.
Military and defense
The military and defense networks are at risk of attacks from other nations and terror groups exposing the US and its people to terror activities. Generally, hacking in department of defense networks tends to leak classified and non-classified information to potential aggressors, thus giving them an upper hand in their actions.
However, it is difficult to assess or to estimate vulnerability, risks and costs of a cyber attack making it all the more dreadful (Cordesman, Cordesman, and Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2002, p.4). The networks of military contractors are susceptible to attacks and classified information. In addition, cyber warfare can be used by nations to conduct offensive cyber operations.
For instance, some attacks are directed to influence people’s thoughts and actions after receiving information from networks. An attack on the communication or transportation channels would hamper the logistic supply of material, control of forces and real time provision of intelligence. Moreover, false alerts and propaganda can be spread through the network, which can threaten the stability of a nation.
The effects a cyber attack on the economy can be very damaging. One of the means of cyber warfare is the stealing of trade secrets and intellectual property from companies; this gives an unfair advantage to competitors in the market.
The destruction caused by a cyber attack like breaking of communication and transportation links can harm finances of a company. In addition, companies are at a risk of losing crucial data, information, or the damage of their computer hardware resulting to a loss. Incorrect information about a company can harm the prospects or profile of that company.
Governments and businesses are likely to spy on each other so as to gather intelligence about the activities of their opponent (Parker and Sachs, 2004, p.223). Generally, nations spy on each other in order to monitor an opponent for treaty or contract compliance or to steal trade secrets. State information leaked to other nations can be used to create social fear or apathy.
In addition, espionage can expose a nation’s technological and scientific development, political and internal political and military development of a nation. In other words, industrial espionage spies on the economic status of a company, trade secrets, and critical technologies threatening the security of companies, and could lead to loss in national economic and technological resources (National Communication System, 2002, p.24).
Cyber threats could be launched on important networks like the power grid, transportation links, and the financial system (Parker and Sachs, 2004, p.222). Therefore, destruction in these networks would have a divesting effect on the civilian and the economy as a whole.
The nation heavily relies on cyber for basic running of organizations, thus direct attack or a disruption of the cyber would cause significant problems on operations of critical infrastructure (Parker and Sachs, 2004, p.222). Moreover, the outcome of cyber attack whose primary role is to destruct the physical assets can cause a huge loss to the government or a company.
How globalizations plays a role in promoting security threats online
Through the interlinked communication systems, threats are easily directed to a nation, which are miles away. Furthermore, the cost of using these globalization networks is minimal hence encouraging nations and groups to pose threats to others.
The meddling of other nation’s affairs encourages cyber attacks as means of defense. The government and the industries over reliance on the information technology and cyber space for communication and data storage exposes nations to security threats online (National Communication System, 2002, p.28)
The market globalization enable manufacturers to produce software and hardware bearing taping codes and then sold to other nations and companies which then are used remotely to access information. The interdependency of crucial infrastructure has even more attracted security threats especially from terrorists.
How cyber command will and/or will not improve national and homeland security of the US
Cyber command will improve security since they have pioneered systems that deploy defenses to counter intrusion in real time. Active surveillance on the military network is done to avoid passing of a malicious code and hunting of intruders in the network.
In addition, cooperation with other nations in averting cyber warfare will improve security since they will be able to share intelligence, technology, and information in order to combat any attack. Therefore, the innovation of technique that can identify malicious virus and how they spread is of great importance to the U.S. in averting an attack.
Cyber command will not improve homeland security since many efforts are directed to protecting the military, leaving out other infrastructure exposed. The hacking of a bank’s or an insurance company system can lead to serious effects on the economy of U.S. therefore, the cyber command acknowledges that predicting of a possible cyber attack is very difficult, hence the security threat is always imminent.
In this case, time is very important when it comes to cyber warfare, since a little delay could result to dangerous consequences on the security. Moreover, classified information and data can still be transmitted or destroyed by enemies or rivals through insiders.
The US cyber command was set up to counter cyber warfare in the US. Primarily, cyber warfare can be engaged by nations or terror groups with a main aim to causing destruction. Some examples of cyber attacks are hacking, black hat hacking, cyber terror, information war and cyber espionage.
The acts of a cyber attack put a nation’s security at risk, can destroy the economy, and result to a diplomatic tension or war due to espionage. Moreover, globalization has made cyber attacks very easy since the cost of launching an attack is low and the skills and information are readily available.
Therefore, cyber command will considerably increase the level of security since they have put up measures that will trace and avert a cyber attack. There is also active surveillance of networks to detect any malware or codes that could be dangerous to the networks.
Besides this, the cyber command will not improve security since the department does not actively monitor other civilian networks that could be possible target for attacks. Time is very crucial whenever it comes to cyber attacks and a slight time lapse could cause catastrophic effects on security of a nation.
Cordesman, A., Cordesman, J., and Center for strategic and International Studies. (2002). Cyber-threats, information warfare, and critical infrastructure protection: defending the U.S. homeland. MA: Greenwood publishing group. Web.
CQ Researcher. (2010). Issues in Terrorism and Homeland Security: selections from CQ Researcher. NY: SAGE. Web.
National Communication System. (2002). The electronic intrusion threat to national security and emergency preparedness (NS/EP) internet communications an awareness document. NY: Diane Publishing. Web.
Parker, T. & Sachs, M. (2004). Cyber adversary characterization: auditing the hacker mind. MA: Syngress. Web.