It may take years before getting the Franz Ferdinand hack, but a cyberattack has the potential to start a world war like we’ve never seen before. Think beyond power and internet outages to bank failures, food shortages and poisoned water.
In the latest offensive, Chinese-backed agents exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s Exchange server with vibrations felt around the world, mostly among small and medium-sized businesses. Two months ago, the US administration singled out Russia for a major attack on software provider SolarWinds, which appeared to target government customers.
There is no end in sight.
So far, despite dozens of cyberattacks among the superpowers over the past two decades, the world has continued to spin on its axis and most people’s lives have gone on largely unhindered. This could change at any time.
Problems were brewing already at the start of the 20th century in Europe as various nations scrambled for supremacy and began to arm themselves accordingly. Thus, the June 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir apparent to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was the match that ignited the dry Tinder of regional tensions, resulting in a war of wear that killed 20 million people.
The global war on terrorism was also catalyzed by a single event. By the time Al Qaeda launched its attacks on the Americas on September 11, 2001, the confrontation between extremist terrorist groups and the West was already fierce – the USS Cole was bombed in October 2000. The US response was fierce. would extend from Afghanistan to Iraq, with a territory less objective than control of populations, ideology and resources.
We are now living in a new type of combat. Where state and semi-state actors wage a targeted and broad war on victims, where specific objectives are unclear – perhaps disruption, perhaps technology and information theft, or even fear, uncertainty and doubt in general – and the main weapons are lines of software code. This style of battle has victims whose identities are not always known and perpetrators who hide their work.
Witness from China: The speed at which Beijing denies an attack is often the reverse of its likely guilt. Or in the United States, for that matter. As early as 2005, he worked with Israel to release the Stuxnet worm that hindered Iran’s uranium enrichment program. While neither have officially admitted their roles, they also weren’t particularly loud in refuting the accusation.
There is a perverse parallel to be drawn between cyber weapons and nuclear weapons. After the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945 and ended the war in the Pacific, fears grew that more horribly destructive attacks could follow as countries like the Soviet Union, the UK, France and China were developing their own capabilities. Yet the reverse was true, giving rise to the concept of mutually assured destruction as the reason restraint was observed.
In the case of cyber warfare, however, nations appear unwilling to admit their capability or deployment of such weapons. As the New York Times wrote in 2012, then President Barack Obama was reluctant to publicize the US role in the attacks on Iran for fear that it would allow other nations, terrorists. or even hackers to justify a similar action. Beijing is likely to share the same point of view in quickly and repeatedly refusing such offensives, even when its fingerprints appear to be all over the attacks.
Indeed, Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping stood on the steps of the White House in 2015 to announce a truce on economic cyberespionage – a detente of seemingly limited scope. Yet that cessation lasted less than four years amid allegations that China has renewed its attacks. The United States and its allies are unlikely to have refrained from hacking either, and so cyber capabilities will develop and incursions will continue, tit-for-tat. All you need is such a hack for going too far and triggering a disproportionate response, which results in a set of chain reactions with multiple and continuous cyber retaliations crippling power grids, data transmission, agriculture, information flow, transport systems and food. supply chains. While it may lack the mushrooming of an atomic bomb or the explosive force of missile strikes, the devastation could be just as widespread and even lead to a military confrontation.
That is why the best hope may be that the cyber equivalent of nuclear weapons will be developed and obtained – and publicly recognized – by all the great powers. These would be seen as having the potential to overwhelm and cause so much upheaval and destruction that it would be impossible to use them. Yet their mere existence can once again give birth to the notion – and fear – of mutually assured destruction, and its paradoxical advantage: peace. – By Tim Culpan, (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP
A hack like this could start the next world war
Source link A hack like this could start the next world war