2022 has been a challenging year so far, and it will not get any better anytime soon. The gloomy outlook is caused by the old fashion war that Russia has waged on Ukraine; this conflict involves several countries, but it's not constrained by geographical location at all. Albert Einstein is often quoted as having said: "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones". Most people think that he meant That nuclear power would cause destruction, But we think that there are more hands at play than one single weapon.
Hacktivists and ordinary people are likely concerned about the potential cyber warfare we might have on hand. The elusive group, known by their masks inspired by the movie V and a simple name of anonymous, attacked Russia on several occasions leaking important documents and taking down their government, as well as media websites. Even though most of us would agree that the aggressor deserves this sort of attack unleashed on them, we all quietly think: What if this sort of weapon fell into the wrong hands? Are Russians also able to strike down upon any country they see as a threat with cyber warfare? What's the extent this war can go to in the digital sphere?
These are some of the questions we will try to answer in this blog.
Cyberwarfare is defined as: "Cyberwarfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation's computers or information networks through, for example, computer viruses or denial-of-service attacks". We must keep in mind that digital devices have become an inseparable part of our daily lives, but this attachment is also true for soldiers and civilians, not just civilians. For example, we've seen recently that Russia has used Google maps to identify the location of Ukrainian citizens and soldiers; on the other hand, we've also seen Russian soldiers jamming GPS signals, so on-foot soldiers in Ukraine would have a difficult time navigating through their routes. Whether we like it or not, we are very dependent on digital technology not just in our everyday lives but in these extreme circumstances even a mobile phone can be turned into a powerful weapon.
As we've already established, we are not far away from actual Cyberwarfare erupting, but everyone is asking a single question: What's the worst that could happen? To establish some sort of picture, let's discuss some of the worst cyberattacks launched in history, to see what actual damage a computer with a keyboard can do:
If you think the giant tech company we use on daily basis is impenetrable, think again. In 2009, China launched a cyberattack on Google's Gmail accounts, belonging to human rights activists, in order to obtain the information they were exchanging with each other or outside the country. It was more than an embarrassment for the company, such sensitive information being leaked proved that nothing we do on the internet is safe, no matter how reputable the service provides may be.
Okay, so Google may be hackable, but what about gigantic government companies such as NASA? Who could ever touch such a protected identity? Well, Jonathan was a 15-year-old boy, who decided to install a backdoor for himself in the United States Department of Defense, stealing NASA's software and proving once again, that no one was outside the reach of a determined individual. This single attack went down in history as the biggest cyberattack on a government entity, keep in mind, that this was all planned and executed by a fifteen-year-old boy. That's a scary sentence to read, to say the least.
Again, three teenagers from Miami decided to alarm the whole US by hacking the system called "Sun Solaris", which is why the attack was later named "Solar Sunrise". More than a few hundred government laptops and computers were hacked and sensitive information, concerning the war in Iraq were stolen. At first, everybody thought that the perpetrators were some Iraqi counter-intelligence officers, but guess what? Three teenagers from Miami were the ones that shook the US defense to the core.
Cyberwarfare is a dangerous force, it will affect not only soldiers and governments but civilians alike. What we tried to convey in this blog post was the dangerous nature of cyberattacks. Sensitive information, private photos, or credit card details can be stolen by a tech-savvy teenager. Imagine this on a much bigger scale, a worldwide attack and counter-attacks on nations. What we can draw from this is that Cyberwarfare is a likely outcome we may see in the nearest future, but it has not yet arrived. Full-scale cyber warfare between nations would be so apparent that we needn't discuss if it is happening or not. What you can do to defend yourself in these situations is delete sensitive information from servers and double-check the security of your accounts. Two-factor authentication would be a great idea, but will it be enough to stop the prying hands of interested, highly trained operatives? Or even curious teenagers?
We'll see what happens in the future; we wish you health and security for the rest of the year.