Advancing a Free Society

The Challenge of Cyberwarfare and Cyberspying

Monday, August 8, 2011

In May 2010 the US military appointed its first four-star general to direct its defensive and offensive capabilities in cyber warfare.  China, Russia, and other major countries also have increased their skills in this new kind of warfare. All major banks and other companies, such as Google, continue to upgrade their protection against breaches of their information and computer network systems. The increasing dependence of both modern economies and modern weaponry on computer-based networks and online storage of information explains the rapid expansion of programs to repel cyber attacks, and to provide armies with significant offensive cyber capabilities.

Of course, modern warfare still relies on large numbers of combat military personnel. But the architecture of the military has become increasingly computer-based, with online communications, information storage, and other essential components that use cyberspace, or can be disrupted through attacks from cyberspace. Countries at war would gain an enormous military advantage if they could shut down the computer-networks of their adversaries for even a few hours.

Larger companies in developing as well as developed countries rely increasingly on the Internet and computer networks. Valuable information can be stolen, privacy of customers compromised, and internal and external communication made much more difficult when these systems get breached.

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(photo credit: Ryan Lackey)