A new World War has been raging on an unseen battlefield, claiming casualties with greater ease than ever before. This war has no clear battle lines and few rules of engagement. The enemy is invisible and there is no end in sight.
Cyberwarfare has been pitting nations against each other for decades. Enemies are hacking into democratic systems and undermining entire governments. They are stealing our most confidential information, resulting in grievous and disastrous consequences. Cyberattacks are cheap and less risky than traditional war tactics. They will only become more frequent and advanced.
In order to understand the true scope and deadly potential of cyberwarfare, you must consider the world’s current technological and political landscapes. For the first time in human history, individuals have easy access to information to form and diversify their opinions via the Internet.
The Internet is where we learn, have conversations, pursue our interests, monitor our finances and store our secrets. Currently, 3.2 billion humans use the Internet regularly. This in person to online paradigm shift is ripe with vulnerabilities. Those with the ability to manipulate the information found online hold unprecedented power. Why attack a country by land, sea, or air, when you can infiltrate their systems from thousands of miles away? At Soteria, we know that it’s not a dystopia, it’s the Digital Age, where information is ammunition and personal data is more valuable than enemy blood.
And for years we’ve been fighting back. Militaries, security agencies and law enforcement departments from nations all over the world have put cyberwarfare on their national agendas, building intricate arsenals to protect themselves from foreign invaders. Consequently, cyber security has become an international concern, facilitating the creation of a new job sector, demanding new educational initiatives and bringing together the brightest minds from hundreds of countries to unite against the common threat.
- In 2009, the U.S. Defense Department established the U.S. Cyber Command. They plan to have its full 133-team mission force, comprised of 6,200 members, in place and operational by the end of 2018. The force is represented by traditional military members from the Air Force and Marine Corps as well cyber experts.[i]
- In 2014, NATO officially designated cyberspace as a domain of warfare. That same year, NATO leaders said “a cyber attack could trigger Article 5 of our founding treaty, where an attack on one Ally is treated as an attack on all Allies. Traditionally, an Article 5 attack would be with tanks, aircrafts and soldiers. Now it can come in the form of a cyber-attack.”[ii]
- In 2015, the 77th Brigade was established within the British army with the purpose of bringing together a “host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare.”[iii] This special group of “Facebook warriors” is skilled in unconventional warfare via social media engagement. The purpose of the force is to control the narrative of the public in lieu of the 24-hour news cycle. The brigade is composed of soldiers with strong journalistic, IT and communications backgrounds.[iv]
- In 2017, Germany established the new “Cyber and Information Space Command” (CIR). “The command will have its own independent and organizational structure, thus becoming the sixth branch of the German military – on par with the army, navy, air force, joint medical service and joint support service.” The German army – the Bundeswehr – is actively recruiting the best IT specialists and cyber experts from the private sector and other military departments to join its new initiative against cyberwarfare.
- In 2018, New York City announced the launch of an initiative called Cyber NYC, which will transform New York City into a “global leader of cybersecurity innovation and job creation.” Cyber NYC will facilitate the creation of a Global Cyber Center in SOHO, the neighborhood where Google and other international corporations are headquartered. The Global Cyber Center will be involved with “virtually every major academic institution in New York City” while simultaneously partnering with massive corporations such as Mastercard and Goldman Sachs. Cyber NYC, when completed, may become the first “single cybersecurity hub of the world.”[vi]
- In 2018, Ireland announced an initiative to create a national cybersecurity cluster called Cyber Ireland. Cyber Ireland will address the country’s cybersecurity needs by facilitating collaboration between the many cybersecurity firms already established in the country. Ireland has become a significant cybersecurity hub within the EU, housing the top 5 worldwide security software companies and has more than 6,000 people working in the cybersecurity industry. Ireland sees expanding on cybersecurity as an opportunity to provide top quality education and enhance economic and technological innovation, competition and growth. [vii]
- In 2018, the Indian government responded to a Pakistani cyberattack by creating the Defence Cyber Agency. The Defence Cyber Agency will function as a “tri-service agency” meaning it will work closely with the Defence Space Agency and the Special Operations Division. These three agencies will draw support and resources from one another. This tri-service structure is implemented as such to meet a push “for more synergy and ‘jointness’ to prepare for threats from the ‘emerging triad’ of space, cyberspace and special operations for future combat.[viii]
- In 2018, The U.S. state of Georgia opened a 330,000 square foot Cyber Center in Augusta. The state government invested $100 million in the center, making it the largest state-funded cybersecurity investment to date. The center has a unique public-private collaboration strategy that includes nearby university students and faculty. The Cyber Center provides educational training at undergraduate and graduate levels to meet the increasing need for cyber professionals in the work force.[ix]
- In 2018, the Australia Defence Force established the Defence Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Cyber Command. The two units will be working together under a unique command structure in order to “support a more coherent military workforce and create an organizational structure to support the future growth of our military cyber workforce.”[x]
And these are only a few examples of how nations are pooling their resources and implementing strategic initiatives to combat cyberwarfare. We must do everything in our power to support these developments. We must recognize the need for a long term, multi-faceted and strategic approach against the new enemy. This approach must include accessible education programs and capacity building training programs dedicated to the cyber domain.
At Soteria, we believe that education is the antidote to this insidious cyber war we have been fighting. Accessible and long-term cyber education programs will ensure that we are at the ready with a qualified cyber force capable of defending against any attack, now, or in the future. As cyberwarfare tactics evolve, so will we. We remain prepared to defend our nations.
- [i] Command History. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cybercom.mil/About/History/
- [ii] NATO. (n.d.). Speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Cyber Defence Pledge Conference (Ecole militaire, Paris). Retrieved from https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_154462.htm?selectedLocale=ru
- [iii] Facebook Warriors: British Army’s social media troops. (2015, February 02). Retrieved from https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/british-army-establishes-new-unit-to-engage-in-cyber-warfare/news-story/83b995f75ea4a35ab2a766a7d5c8e14e
- [iv] MacAskill, E. (2015, January 31). British army creates team of Facebook warriors. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade
- [v] Deutsche Welle. (n.d.). German army launches new cyber command | DW | 01.04.2017. Retrieved from https://www.dw.com/en/german-army-launches-new-cyber-command/a-38246517
- [vi] Horovitz, B. (2018, November 28). A Plan to Turn New York Into a Capital of Cybersecurity. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/business/a-plan-to-turn-new-york-into-a-capital-of-cybersecurity.html
- [vii] About Cyber Ireland. (2018, December 10). Retrieved from https://cyberireland.ie/about-cyberireland/
- [viii] Sen, S. R. (2018, October 16). India to set up 3 new agencies, including cyber and space, to boost defence capabilities. Retrieved from https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-to-set-up-3-new-agencies-including-cyber-and-space-to-boost-defence-capabilities/story-umuS4UOsDavc0MhHkUjuWN.html
- [ix] Georgia Technology Authority. (2018, July 09). The Georgia Cyber Center’s Hull McKnight Building Opens its Doors on July 10, 2018. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-georgia-cyber-centers-hull-mcknight-building-opens-its-doors-on-july-10-2018-300677239.html
- [x] Defence, D. O. (2018, January 30). Defence News and Media. Retrieved from https://news.defence.gov.au/media/media-releases/defence-chief-announces-new-command