How worried should we all be by the rise of new digital armies ?

By Ambra Sargu

With cyber attacks grabbing global news headlines and governments across the world pumping billions of dollars into cyber weapons and cybersecurity, is modern warfare moving online ? According to NATO for example, cyber attacks are becoming more common, sophisticated and damaging so how worried should we all be by the rise of new digital armies ?

Cyber warfare is something that has not been defined yet, I mean you could go to Wikipedia and get a general idea of what it is but we don’t really know. There is no way to put it, there is no simple east answer here. There are no boarders on the internet as far as we can see so how do we define warfare on the internet? When it comes down to government to government you have incidents, indicators , potential compromises, leaks but the main problem that we have is attribution. We don’t really know where these attacks are coming from. We could guesstimate but at the end of the day there is no clear answer. If we look at this from another perspective, when you say cyber or computers we look at another domain for warfare just like we had land war, sea war , air war ,even space war and now cyberwar. Personally I do not think we will ever have a cyberwar but I think it is going to be one of the elements that will be used in conflicts and most of the things that we see today labelled as cyber war have bring to do with war. Most of this stuff governments are doing or lying today is actually about espionage so it is not about war it is about stealing information.

Many people think that a cyber war is not as dangerous as a land war but if we look at what is happening between Russia and Ukraine at the moment, there are actually examples of people dying. There are multiple reports of Ukrainian soldiers, Ukrainian artillery soldiers with their mobile phones getting infected by Russian malware which has then been used to pinpoint their jail location after which there has been artillery fire from the Russian side to their locations. Basically what is happening here is that Ukrainian soldiers are dying because their phones got infected by a piece of malware and that is as close to cyber war that I can think of.

Have you ever wondered how vulnerable are things like power grids, utility companies, traffics and transportation systems that ordinary people depend on every day or even how vulnerable are we personally in terms of emails and how easy is it to get into peoples emails or crack their passwords. There is always a human element, a weakness to every infrastructure and it is always the human regardless of how secure an environment is , there is always a way to export rate information. The irony is that the most developed nations like the U.S. security secretly developed the most sophisticated cyber weapon while also being the most vulnerable to them.

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