Is cyber-warfare here?
Lights could be turned off, streets turned to gridlock by targeting traffic light control systems, satellites blinded and warships left dead in the water…
September 26, 2010 12:12 by Reuters
“It may prove to be a useful tool in Syria in the long term, assuming Damascus pushes ahead with its suspected nuclear program and Hezbollah is so well armed — it already owns more rockets than most states — that Israel would think twice before launching air strikes … as it did in 2007,” said Maplecroft political risk analyst Anthony Skinner.
However, there is no guarantee that a state subject to a cyber attack — even if was never able to categorically prove the source — might not retaliate in either a covert or open military way against those it is believed were responsible.
It’s not just about attacks. Experts say the main use of cyber capabilities by most countries is for hacking and spying, either for counterterrorism or commercial reasons. Authoritarian emerging states such as China and Russia are both frequently accused of using state spies to help government-linked businesses — and many analysts suspect Western countries have been guilty of the same as well. Few see that changing.
“States will continue to develop more sophisticated asymmetric — and deniable — cyber and information attacks,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at Control Risks. “Some of these may be used for strategic and military aims, others for commercial or diplomatic espionage.”
But so far, experts say cyber attacks have been limited to data theft or deletion. They have yet to come close to the physical damage of simply blowing something up the old-fashioned way.
“To my knowledge, there is no case of a cyber attack leading to physical destruction,” said cyber warfare expert Reveron. “It is certainly possible and drives much thinking about cyber defence. But so far, there aren’t any cyber ‘super weapons’.”
Unless Stuxnet is, of course. And we may never know.
(By Peter Apps. Editing by Charles Dick)