State Sponsored Cyber Attack: It Will Only Increase.
As the first oldest profession pornography went online, and indeed is large credited with the explosive growth of the Internet, so has the second oldest profession, espionage.
A recent report by McAfee estimated as many as 120 countries are using the internet for espionage. This is maybe an overestimation but by no means unrealistic. Putting together a cyber warfare capability would bring significant cost vs. benefit advantages for any country big, small, rich or poor. A cruise missile costs around $600,000 and can only be used once. How many competent hackers could this finance in Iran?
Russia, China and the UK are just three countries that have cyber warfare capabilities. Some are already actively using it. The Estonia attacks, coined Web War 1, although most argue Titan Rain was the first, targeted Estonian parliament, its banks, ministries, newspapers and broadcasters, amid the country’s row with Russia about the relocation an iconic Russian bronze statue and its war graves in Tallinn. A political officer of the pro-Kremlin youth movement admitted organising the cyber attacks yet caveated his statement by saying he did not have the Kremlins support. Given the size and ferocity of such an attack this, many agree, this is unlikely.
China has publicly announced it has a sweeping military modernisation program that has fundamentally transformed its ability to fight high tech wars. The Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) and its 3rd Division which has a focus on Signals Intelligence (SIGINT), computer network defence and exploitation is staffed with an estimated 130,000 strong linguists and technicians. Compare that with an estimated 6,000 staff at GCHQ, the UK’s equivalent. Further information on the ‘Capability of the People’s Republic of China to Conduct Cyber Warfare and Computer Network Exploitation’
And the UK? Prior to the recent election the then security minister Lord West stated the UK faced coordinated cyber attacks “on a regular basis” from other countries including Russia and China. “We have an ability to do things and we have got very good and very talented people who have worked on this.”. The recent launch of the UK Cyber Security Challenge is a clear indication the UK is ramping up its defensive and possible attack capability.
Whether attacking to ex-filtrate trade secrets for economic advantage or at the extreme to undertake denial of service attacks to knock out nationally critical services of anyone who doesn’t share the same political or ideological view point, there is absolutely no doubt. Cyber warfare here today and growing on all sides.