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The Future of Cyber Warfare: How Future Wars Will Be Fought

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Warfare has traditionally been executed within easily-defined periods of time and geographic boundaries. Wars are declared and when objectives are achieved or abandoned, the parties return home. These conflicts have been fought on identifiable terrain in the air, on the ground, under the sea, and as of the last 20 years, in space

Even the changing tools of war have been easily defined: the rifle, bomb, aircraft, tank, ship, et al. Some of the newer tools, such as the improvised explosive device, are equally tangible and identifiable.

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In 1998, the United States hacked into Serbia’s air defense system to compromise air traffic control and facilitate the bombing of Serbian targets. In 2007, in Estonia, a botnet of over a million computers brought down government, business and media websites across the country. The attack was suspected to have originated in Russia, motivated by political tension between the two countries. Also in 2007, an unknown foreign party hacked into high tech and military agencies in the United States and downloaded terabytes of information. In 2009, a cyber spy network called “GhostNet” accessed confidential information belonging to both governmental and private organizations in over 100 countries around the world. GhostNet was reported to originate in China, although that country denied responsibility. The most effective protection against cyberwarfare attacks is securing information and networks. Security updates should be applied to all systems — including those that are not considered critical — because any vulnerable system can be co-opted and used to carry out attacks. Measures to mitigate the potential damage of an attack include comprehensive disaster recovery planning that includes provisions for extended outages.

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Cyber warfare has different definitions depending on which theorist is applying it and which country is examining and applying the concept; for example, the U.S. military view cyber warfare in very different terms from the Russians

To begin with the word “cyber” is a completely new phenomenon that arose after the dot com boom and the start of the 4th Revolution. Not surprisingly, it has not filtered into the established rules of war or armed conflict adhered to by other nation states (Chen, 2010). For starters, the word “cyber” is not found in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and any of the additional Protocols (it has not been inserted there). The word, in common usage, relates to a whole host of things ranging from computers and their networks to the information in these computers to even the process of uploading and retrieving this information. By extension, the word cyber warfare will include acts committed in furtherance of any act against and adversary using everything that is considered part of the ‘cyber’ domain. In looking at acts, cyber warfare would include offensive acts, defensive acts or acts of deterrence. By this explanation, it will include disseminating offensive information through computers or computer networks (Andress & Winterfeld, 2011). Cyber warfare is one that has no clear boundaries or actors which makes a lot of the current legislation unhelpful. Acts of war or states of war are usually assigned to recognised states and combatants. But in this case, cyber warfare can be conducted by states, agents of states, non-state actors, international groups or any collection of people with a single vested interest or even one individual.

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To conclude, modernization requires the ability of the military to keep place with the technological evolution of the battlefield. A force able to modernize in turn requires an industrial base healthy and diverse enough to develop and apply emerging technologies that are relevant to war. Failure in either area—a weak, moribund defense industrial base or obsolete forces—means failure in war and the fatal compromise of the nation’s security

Conversely, a healthy and effective force, made possible by a healthy and relevant industrial base, means a secure and prosperous country.

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Andersen, P. H. & Kragh, H., 2011. Beyond the inductive myth: New approaches to the role of existing theory in case research. . In: R. Marschan-Piekkari & C. Welch, eds. Rethinking the case study in international business and management research. s.l.:Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, pp. 146-167.

Andress, J. & Winterfeld, S., 2011. Cyber Warfare – Techniques, tactics and Tools for Security Practitioners. s.l.:Elsevier Science.

Chen, T., 2010. Stuxnet, the real start of cyber warfare?. IEEE Network, Volume 24(Issue 6), pp. 2-3.

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