World War Web: Preparing for Cyberwarfare

A question I’ve asked myself many times is: if a third World War were to occur today; just how different would it be?

With everything internet-connected as part of the “Internet of Things”, are we leaving ourselves open, and what prevention measures are in place?

 

The main issue these days is we expect our information to be easily available; but with a rise of decentralised and increasingly powerful hacktivist groups, alongside the usual terrorism threats and political tensions between countries which have always plagued humankind, can we afford it?

Call of Duty’s “Modern Warfare” series explores the idea; where events occur such as automated defence systems being hacked to turn on own citizens. We already have jets and drones in Afghanistan which can be flown remotely; imagine the devastation if anyone gained control from their bedroom.

Of course these defences should live on local networks; disconnected from remote intrusion. Where most concern lies, is for the systems which require secure outside access; such as banks or the stock exchange.

On Wall Street, SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association) is helping banks to prepare for a large-scale Cyberwarfare attack – using a simulation called ‘Quantum Dawn 2’.

Whilst sounding like a level in Call of Duty - or a really bad sci-fi sequel - it’s an important practice to help put measures in place and co-ordinate with outside institutions if the signs of an attack occur.

The original simulation (I’m sure you can guess the name) essentially featured terrorists with guns trying to gain access to the bank. After review, issues were found with the teams communicating with one another. This follow-up will be entirely office based; a sign of our cyber-reliant times.

Here in the UK, the Defense Academy published a report entitled ‘The Global Cyber-Game’ (PDF) – which features a range of potential conflict scenarios.

The document looks into the internet essentially becoming “militarised”, becoming a fundamental requirement, but also a subsequent target in warfare. Almost a month ago we reported on an intrusion to Google’s servers by Chinese hackers which gained a year’s worth of U.S spy data.

Getting closer to today, just over a week ago we reported on the leak of PRISM, which has created passionate discussion over on LinkedIn. With such high-profile cyber security issues being raised; it is quite clearly of genuine concern to the welfare and future of all.

What do you think about global cyber security and potential for warfare? Are we putting enough seriousness into putting preventive measures in place?

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