Cyber Warfare: The Growing Threat to Our Nation, Our Businesses, and Our Way of Life

Comments Off on Cyber Warfare: The Growing Threat to Our Nation, Our Businesses, and Our Way of Life
Cyber Warfare: The Growing Threat to Our Nation, Our Businesses, and Our Way of Life

In the time it takes to read or listen to this sentence, more than 6,000 cyber attacks will be launched by terrorists and foreign countries against the U.S. government and American businesses.  These attacks can be divided into three types:

  • Cyber warfare
  • Cyber espionage
  • Cyber terrorism

Let's explore each of these threats.

Cyber warfare is an attack on one government by another government or large groups of individuals.  In 2008, U.S. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell revealed in The New Yorker1magazine that the Defense Department detects 3 million unauthorized probes of its computer networks every day.  The same article reported that China has 40,000 hackers gathering U.S. intelligence from our computer networks.

An example of cyber warfare2 was the massive assault on Estonia's computer systems after the government decided to move a monument of a soldier dating from the Soviet era.  Estonia's Russian citizens, and apparently the Russian government, were opposed to the move.  On April 26, 2006, and for several days afterward, 1 million "zombie" computers bombarded government Web sites in Estonia with data so rapidly that the servers couldn't keep up.  The sites affected included those of the country's president, prime minister, and parliament, where the deluge of data shut down the e-mail system. 

What makes cyber warfare attacks so effective is the ability to unleash an overpowering attack by using a botnet, which is a network of computers that have been commandeered through a software program that allows them to be controlled remotely by a single computer. 

According to James Jay Carafano, PhD,3 a Heritage Institute senior research fellow for national security and homeland security, many people unknowingly allow their computers to be taken over by clicking on pop-ups, and many others do nothing more than open a Web browser that has been compromised so that it stealthily downloads malicious code onto the user's hard drive. 

The end result is an army of machines that can be programmed by a spy or terrorist.  By directing thousands of computers to send data to targeted Web sites in a denial-of-service attack, the attacker can effectively shut down a computer network. 

Cyber espionage is the use of digital technologies to gain access to sensitive data that can be used for competitive purposes...

To continue reading, become a paid subscriber for full access.
Already a Trends Magazine subscriber? Login for full access now.

Subscribe for as low as $195/year

  • Get 12 months of Trends that will impact your business and your life
  • Gain access to the entire Trends Research Library
  • Optional Trends monthly CDs in addition to your On-Line access
  • Receive our exclusive "Trends Investor Forecast 2015" as a free online gift
  • If you do not like what you see, you can cancel anytime and receive a 100% full refund