There is a debate within the highest corridors of power as to whether it is legitimate to launch pre-emptive cyber attacks against ones enemies.
It is believed that Russia and China are already engaged in this type of espionage against the West, and the US and Israel used the Stuxnet and Flame viruses against Iran. However, these attacks against Iran were never intended to make their way onto the internet.
The danger of going down the road of pre-emptive cyber warfare is illustrated in the case of Stuxnet. The Stuxnet virus was used to infect the offline Natanz Uranium Enrichment facility. However, the Stuxnet made it onto the internet, infecting about 50,000 systems globally, and has enabled criminals and other agencies access to this highly sophisticated virus.
Could we be coming to a time where the internet is a war zone?
In the last few weeks and months we have seen a string of news stories of hackers attacking various high profile government agencies, and companies across the globe. Most of these appear to be conducted by loose networks of hackers spread across different countries, many merely teenagers in their bedrooms.
However, what a few kids have been able to do should concern us all deeply. To date these groups have stolen data from Sony, hacked the IMF, Pentagon, and the Italian e-crimes department.
And now we are could be about to see something much more serious than these breaches. Last year, a computer virus was detected with a level of sophistication never before seen. The Stuxnet virus was professionally developed with the purpose of attacking the Iranian nuclear program. The virus was specifically designed to attack the centrifuges within the nuclear plants where Iran have been enriching Uranium. The cyber attack was effective, and hindered Iran’s nuclear program, for a while. Analysis of the code showed a level of sophistication only possible for a government funded virus; it is now believed to have been developed by Israel and America.
The Stuxnet code has now become available to the wider public, and although in it’s raw form it would be of little use, given the specific purpose it was designed the code could be altered and used to attack key sites in the West. For this reason Stuxnet has been called the first Cyber-weapon. Cyber security experts have been warning it is only a matter of time before a major attack happens capable of bringing down a major international corporation, or devastating key infrastructure, such as power or water supplies; even resulting in loss of life. The Department of Homeland Security said several “nation states, terrorist networks, organized criminal groups, and individuals located here in the United States” were “capable of targeting elements of the US information infrastructure to disrupt, or destroy systems upon which we depend”.
With so many major companies and governmental departments being successfully targeted by hackers, we need to pray for the protection of vulnerable agencies and companies upon which we all depend.
Random Events, Free Will, Pre-destiny or Something Darker ?