Back in the 1800’s, battles were fought by swords, pistols and cannons. Flash forward to the 1900’s, fighter jets, guns, bombs and missiles became the weapons of choice. The 21st century, on the other hand, has seen the advent of biological warfare in the mix. In addition, a new frontier is quickly gaining notoriety as a new warzone – cyberspace.
Cyberwarfare constitutes actions by a nation-state to penetrate another nation's computers or networks for the purposes of causing damage or disruption. It includes threats such as espionage, vandalism (defacing web pages, targeting websites with propaganda), and sabotage. According to The Economist, a cyber-attack may include a breakdown of military e-mail systems, oil refinery and pipeline explosions, the collapse of air-traffic-control systems, derailment of freight and metro trains, scrambling of financial data, and blackouts, among other things. The scenario is such that a breakdown of society is projected to follow, with the identity of the attacker possibly remaining a mystery.
It is wise to remember that the Internet was not designed for security. On the contrary, it was meant to bridge geographical barriers and make information contained in other parts of the world accessible even to those at the far end of it, through a convenient medium. In putting the world together, the Internet has also drawn enemy lines closer to home, with only as much as a firewall standing between hostile states. The victor, in this day and age, will no longer necessarily be the one in possession of the biggest and most elaborate weapons; it will be the side which can best exploit information to disperse the fog of war, while enshrouding the enemy in it.
*Photo courtesy of The Economist