Digital Conflict

By Kevin Coleman

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Kevin Coleman

The new arms race

Cyberattacks and the availability of malware are on the rise. The code and processes used to carry out these acts of cyber aggression are professionally developed and sold on the black market. The developmental transition really began in 2003 and has continued to progress to the point where quality assurance comments have been found in some of the raw code used to create this new class of weapons.

Many fear the notion of a cyber Cold War or cyber arms race, but not for the reason you might think. They envision it will bring more government involvement, regulations, data observation and collection, and loss of privacy, and also an overall risk to Internet freedom. Growth in data theft, digital identity theft, malware and other methods of attack continue to become more sophisticated and more successful. The fact is criminals, terrorists and rogue nation states are attacking computers and devices that connect to the Internet at an unprecedented rate. Recent reports that the Defense Department has accelerated its efforts to develop offensive cyber capabilities (i.e., cyber arms), which could be used to disrupt or dismantle hostile military networks in countries where U.S. forces are operating, have fueled rhetoric of a new Cold War and a cyber arms race.

Those who are involved in cybersecurity know the cyber arms race didn't just begin. Many believe it started with the first state sponsored cyberattack and that is said to have taken place in the late 1980s. What changed is that the threat imposed by cyber weapons development increased by more than 600 percent from 2010 to 2011, rising from a low level to a high level, according to Technolytics' 2012 Cyber SitRep. In addition, the topic gained much wider media coverage and also received more attention as the result of an increase in the disclosure of successful cyberattacks.

Posted by Kevin Coleman on Mar 29, 2012 at 9:03 AM


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