The federal defense contractor stated that the attack was discovered and put down “almost immediately” and that no critical data was stolen.
However, this incident (which is far from isolated) is an indicator of what is to come in the arena of espionage and warfare. If World War III was ever to break out, it is highly likely that it will be fought largely in cyberspace.
According to Josh Shaul, chief technology officer at Application Security, “2011 has really lit up the boards in terms of data breaches.”
He is right. The news is filled with articles and segments about corporations getting slammed by hackers; like Sony, FOX, PBS, HBGary, and Lockheed Martin. Yet, these hackers are not just targeting corporations.
It is estimated that more than 100 foreign intelligence agencies have attempted to penetrate U.S. defense computer networks in an effort to steal military plans or weapons systems designs.
New Trend Toward Cyber Warfare
The attempt to steal plans and designs is nothing new when it comes to international affairs. These sorts of attempts were common place throughout the Cold War.
So common, in fact, that a whole array of gadgets were invented to aid the agent in stealing secrets. Since the world is changing the way it stores documents, the method in which those documents are stolen must change as well.
The days of using lock-picks and letter extractors are slowly coming to an end. Today’s spy is more likely to be sitting in a command center, behind a computer terminal.
The Pentagon realizes this new trend and has taken several steps not only to detect such attacks, but to deter them altogether.
The DoD Cyber Command and Equivalence
About a year ago, Department of Defense set up a new Cyber Command in response to this new threat. The Department of Homeland Security is in the process of employing automated systems, known as Einstein 2 and Einstein 3, to better protect government agencies’ computer systems.
More recently, the Pentagon is discussing a new military practice they are calling “equivalence.” This idea is gaining momentum throughout the Pentagon.
Equivalence is based on the idea that if a cyber attack would result in death, damage, destruction or high-level disruption that is equivalent to a traditional military attack, then that cyber attack would be considered an act of war.
Once considered an act of war, the Pentagon would retaliate accordingly.
One DoD official made a statement to would-be international hackers to the Wall Street Journal: “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.”
To Strike the Enemy, You Have to Find the Enemy
This notion of equivalence is still in the discussion phase and officials are investigating if the policy could become a viable solution.
A lot of kinks have to be worked out; like, on the Internet which is largely conducive to anonymity, can the U.S. ever be absolutely certain the origin of an attack?
To retaliate, the Pentagon must know beyond any doubt who to retaliate against. Also, in what form would that retaliation take? If a foreign country shuts down America’s power grid, would America shut down their grid or would a traditional military strike be called?
Also, the effectiveness of this policy is also being discussed. In a world where technology is fast-paced and ever-changing, could the military strike be quick and efficient enough to stop these foreign opponents with minimal damage to civilians and their property?
These questions and many more must be answered before America (or any other country, for that matter) can create any sort of cyber warfare policy.
However, these questions should be answered as quickly as possible. Full-blown cyber warfare is quickly approaching, and hackers (those acting independently or as military agents) are getting more resourceful by the day. Phrases like cyber security and cyber attack are becoming commonplace. It is only a matter of time that “cyber war” will be added to this repertoire.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com