Cyber warfare

ByUzair Ali

He is in the finance sector


January 21, 2023

Cyber warfare

Uzair Ali describes a worrying aspect

Cyber warfare is a new and novel phenomenon of waging war that took shape with the giant strides taken by the electronic technology in the 21st century. This unique phenomenon revolutionised the communication practices and enabled interaction through media that were easily accessible. This process also had the potential to disseminate information to widest possible audience globally and that too with no loss of time. These qualities provided the cyber technique an ability to transcend all other competitors and let its perpetrators tremendous advantage. In contemporary global scenario cyber techniques have been used as an instrument by means of exercising control and gaining widespread approval and acceptability. This particular objective is achieved by using effective law enforcement and by providing a secure and pluralistic environment to rational decision makers to properly direct decision making.
The destructive potential of relatively new cyber warfare is very high because it is pre-dominantly a form of information warfare through use of the internet and related technologies by governmental and non-governmental agencies that carry the potential to damage or disrupt activities or systems of an adversary. An offshoot of cyber warfare is cyber-terrorism that pertains to use of cyber-warfare techniques by groups or individuals operating independently of state dispensations. In this context a number of states have expressed fear that they possess active cyber-warfare programmes that are also programmed to tackle cyber-terrorism. However, it is pointed out in this respect that the elements involved in negative cyber activities have the capability to carry out attacks against websites of governmental and private organisations engaged in providing public services.

The most worrying aspect of cyber terrorism is the vast possibilities it possesses in respect of the use of technology via the internet. These potentially harmful tools are capable of targeting computer networks, financial networks and power providers of a country as perpetrators of cyber terrorism identify these as the most appropriate features to corrupt or disarm in order to cause trouble. They usually engage in manipulation of systems via software with secret back doors, theft of classified files, erasing data, re-writing web pages and introducing viruses for obtaining their nefarious objectives.

The most important tool of ensuring control of factors that determine decision making process is media. Media contains the important faculty of framing perception and psychological frame of mind of the people. Media around the world is extensively interlinked through networks which not only makes information to disseminate easily but also makes media more susceptible to strategic cyber warfare. There is always the potential to hijack media networks and use them to design practices that may make or break reputations of decision making apparatus. In addition these tools could be used to induce fear amongst segments of population and could also be employed to spread chaos within polities. The most frequently used tactic in this respect is psy-ops that can be fully employed to tarnish the image of the targets they aim to hit at.

In this respect they employ two methods: at international level and intra-national level. Through international level they deploy arguments aimed at disrupting relations between countries that have contentious issues to tackle. At intra-national level they aim at inducing political divisions in the population of the targeted country by means of spreading false propaganda resulting in conflicts that may result in widespread disturbances in them. One shape of this tactic could be witnessed in the current labeling target countries as failed states thereby creating perceptions that they are facing prospects of anarchy and chaos.

One method of attaining the objective through cyber techniques is to gain control of law enforcement and security agencies of states that heavily rely on criminal records and other coordination networks such as emergency response and recovery networks which although act as a force multiplier for them but at the same time make them vulnerable to strategic cyber warfare. These are potent tools that always produce desired results and greatly assist the practitioners of cyber warfare. In addition cyber warfare plan premeditated and politically motivated attacks against sectors that provides information, particularly computer networks and their data with the aim to create maximum disruption in states.

Cyber warfare also takes advantage of any existing group that has problems with the dominant themes followed by the controlling authority of the target countries and incites it to resort to violence against non-combatant targets by sub-national groups or clandestine agents. This tool is frequently used in many developing countries that suffer from dissenting groups fighting against arbitrary practices followed by powerful groups. This practice is widely condemned but the powerful groups hardly budge from their policies and justify their actions under the garb of the wider interests of the country.

It is widely acknowledged that the last couple of decades have seen a colossal change in terms of the influence that cyber warfare has exercised in contemporary functionalities of the state systems. These advances have not only revolutionized the way in which wars are fought but have also initiated a new battle for the control of a new dimension. The very fact that cyber warfare also dubbed as information warfare is a potent force multiplier has given it more potency than other forms of exerting influence. In this context it is quite obvious that cyber warfare has become potentially more destructive and it can cause much more harm than the traditional methods of waging war. TW


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