Cyber warfare refers to the use of technology to launch attacks on nations, governments and citizens, causing comparable harm to actual warfare using weaponry.
One of the problems with cyber warfare is that it is very hard to work out who launched the attack in the first place. In some cases hacking groups are very quick to take responsibility for attacks, however in most cases no one takes responsibility and because its so easy for people to hide, rarely can the attacker be uncovered.
Military organizations and intelligence agencies have been known to enlist the help of freelance criminals and other groups to launch an attack on their behalf, making it even trickier to pin down the perpetrator and punish them appropriately.
When trying to understand cyber warfare it is useful to review some recent cyber warfare examples. In one example, Stuxnet, first discovered in 2010 involved the US and Israel using a sophisticated worm to delay nuclear weapons development in Iran. Another example was Russia using multiple cyber attacks against the Ukraine, including the Blackenergy attack that cut power to 700,000 homes in 2015.
But are we currently engaged in a cyber war? Not according to the ‘clear and unambiguous’ attrition requirement. We know that Russia and China are developing cyber weapons to use in any future cyber conflict and US, France and Israel are just as active as nation states leading the way in this endeavor. But that doesn’t mean we can say any of these countries are using them, although we know they have the capability and have done so in the recent past.
Experts are preparing defenses and staying alert for whatever comes our way next in the form of cyber warfare. The promise that future attacks will come with increasing sophistication and potential for severe damage are certain, so this mission of preparedness embraced by nation states takes on the utmost in urgency.