The War against Online Attacks

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Cyber warfare attacks are the new terrorism, with economic and national security risks.

Web attacks are one of the major threats on the internet nowadays and the most important source of loss of financial and intellectual property. In the recent years, attacks have been increasing in number and complexity, mainly targeting high profile companies, governments and even academic research. What more, the number of people browsing the internet through PCs, tablets, smartphones etc is constantly increasing, making online attacks a very interesting target for criminals.

Online attacks are a new kind of warfare, unlike anything seen so far. They can threaten a nation’s core security and fade out the economy. For more than two decades, internet-based attacks have been occasional and mostly low level. Now, many experts caution that the occurrence of disastrous cyber war is upon us. Not everyone agrees with the risky scenarios; major protesters challenge that governments are pushing a fake digital disaster threat to justify privacy intrusions.

Cyber warfare has established itself as an instrument of power in societies and governments are spending billions in researching how best to use it. World governments have begun taking the threat of cyber war seriously. The question of how to control such a thing would require a level of international cooperation never before seen, and that is the problem. The unregulated nature of the cyber arms trade not only leaves open the possibility of technology falling into an opposition organization’s possession, but also guarantees it. Political difficulty of a militarized conventional war also may play a part in the growing cyber war.

One factor that sets cyber attack apart from other forms of warfare is the ease in launching it. Inducing a tragic infrastructure failure may only demand one small change in a line of code. Security vulnerabilities plague the computer systems that control critical infrastructure; shocking anyone with a basic understanding of how to secure a personal computer. A large number of systems use passwords developed by the manufacturer while others use the default username and passwords like ‘admin/admin.’ Users browsing the internet on infrastructure facilities need only download an email attachment or click a single malicious link to compromise on the security of an entire infrastructural system.

While cyber security accountabilities in infrastructure systems may only be one problem among many concerning aging infrastructure, the power to unleash another war may lie in the hands of hackers.

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